JEE Main: Delhi students appear following COVID-19 precautions, some say satisfied with safety norms

JEE Main: Delhi students appear following COVID-19 precautions, some say satisfied with safety norms Students appeared for JEE(Main) amid stringent safety measures in view of the COVID-19 pandemic
Press Trust of India | Sep 1, 2020 - 11:28 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Thousands of students appeared for the JEE (Main) at 18 exam centres here Tuesday amid stringent safety measures in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, after weeks of uncertainty over whether the engineering entrance test will be held and persistent demand from some quarters to postpone it.

Some of the students said they were initially apprehensive about taking the test amid the pandemic, but did not face any issues at the centres as all safety norms were properly followed. Scenes outside the exam centres across the country as well as in the national capital reflected the ‘new normal’ effectuated by the COVID-19 pandemic: staggered entry and exit for candidates, sanitisers at the gates, distribution of masks, and students queuing up with safe social distance among them.

There were 18 exam centres in Delhi and a total of 660 across the country, officials from the National Testing Agency (NTA) said. The exam, which had been postponed twice in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled from September 1 to 6.

Standard operating procedures followed

Tuesday was the first day of the exam. Shivani, who took the computer-based exam at the Arwachin Bharti Bhawan Senior Secondary School in Vivek Vihar, said she travelled from Dwarka Mor to the centre without facing any difficulty. “Amid the ongoing protests to demand the postponement of the exam, I had thought the exam won’t happen. But I didn't want it postponed as it would have led to more anxiety among students," she said.

Requesting anonymity, another candidate at the centre said all Standard Operating Procedures were followed inside the examination centre and students were made to sit at an appropriate safe distance. Niharika, who had come from Mayur Vihar, said all exam materials were handed over to them after proper sanitisation.

"We were allowed to carry our own sanitiser also. At no point, we felt that our safety was compromised. We were also given a fresh mask inside the centre and all candidates were thermally screened," she said.

Over 9 lakh candidates have registered for the JEE-Main exam for admission in engineering courses in IITs, NITs and Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs).

Archit, another aspirant, said, "Social distancing was maintained as there were only three candidates in my room. We were given sanitiser inside." Chhaya Sharma, the mother of a candidate, said,

"There were of course fears about stepping out during the pandemic time. It is almost after four-five months that we are stepping out.”

Exams wearing masks and gloves

She said the students could not prepare for the exam the way they wanted to since coaching centres were shut. “In a way, we are relieved that the exam finally happened today."

A candidate, requesting anonymity, said he faced difficulty in taking the exam wearing masks and hand gloves. “The paper was not difficult but it was an effort taking the exam wearing masks and hand gloves. It was suffocating inside the room and even though it was for our own safety, it was a challenge,” he said.

Echoing similar sentiments, another candidate said she felt uncomfortable taking the exam while wearing a mask and she had to remove it a couple of times to get air, which interrupted her concentration.

The NTA is taking several steps to conduct the crucial exam safely, including increasing the number of examination centres, alternate seating plans, fewer candidates per room and staggered entry and exit. While the governments of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have assured students that they will provide transportation to candidates, a group of IIT alumni and students have also launched a portal to provide transport facilities to exam centres for the candidates in need.

The weeks leading up to the exam witnessed a growing chorus for postponing JEE-Main as well as medical entrance exam NEET over the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

However, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking postponement of the two exams, saying a "precious year" of students cannot be wasted and life has to go on.

Based on the results of the JEE-Main Paper 1 and Paper 2, the top 2.45 lakh candidates will be eligible to appear for the JEE-Advanced, which is a one-stop exam to get admission into the 23 premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). JEE-Advanced is scheduled to take place on September 27.

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