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Separate rooms for Covid-positive aspirants among govt steps to smoothly pull off NEET-JEE

Govt is going ahead with NEET-JEE despite students' concerns, but National Testing Agency has assured aspirants that all Covid precautions are in place to ensure safety.

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New Delhi: One of the year’s most important exam seasons kicks off Tuesday, with the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) Main scheduled for 1-6 September and the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) for 13 September.

The government is going ahead with the exams despite students’ concerns about the papers being held amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but the National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts NEET and JEE Main, has assured aspirants that all precautions are in place to ensure their safety.

Press releases issued by the NTA over the past two weeks and conversations with officials of the agency help present an idea about the arrangements likely to be in place.

These include increased number of exam centres, fewer number of students in each room, and social distancing. 

The NTA has also made provisions to ensure students with confirmed and suspected Covid infection can take the exam in isolated chambers. 

JEE and NEET will be the first large-scale exams to take place in the country ever since the Covid-19 pandemic began, and come at a time when India is recording approximately 70,000 coronavirus cases per day. Official figures estimate 8.58 lakh and 15.97 lakh candidates have registered for JEE Main and NEET, respectively.   

According to the NTA, the number of exam centres for JEE Main has been increased to 660 from the usual 570, and to 3,843 from 2,546 for NEET. Earlier, the agency had planned that 24 students will be seated in each exam room, but the number has since been revised to 12.  

The exams will be held over 12 shifts instead of eight. The agency was planning to have 1.32 lakh candidates write the exams in one shift, but the number has now been reduced to 85,000.

Additionally, the agency has procured over 10 lakh masks and pairs of gloves. Each student will be handed fresh masks when they enter the exam hall, which means they will have to discard the ones they wore to the centre. 

Sanitiser bottles will also be made available at all exam halls, and students have been asked to bring their own sanitiser bottles as well.  

NTA officials told ThePrint that examinees will be allowed to carry their admit card, sanitisers, gloves and water bottles into the exam hall. In case of JEE, which is a computer-based exam, students will be given notepads for rough work. Students writing NEET, a pen and paper exam, will be allowed to take stationery.  

Also Read: JEE-NEET brings another student protest before Modi govt. This time, opposition is united

Arrangements in states 

Adequate arrangements have also been made outside the examination centres to enable social distancing while the students are waiting for the tests to start. Thermal screening and temperature checks will be performed at each exam centre. Any student who displays high temperature will be made to sit in an isolation room. The agency has also made arrangements for Covid-positive patients to write their exams in isolation rooms, but the agency has asked for a declaration in advance about such candidates. 

“If a candidate is Covid positive, there is a provision for him/her to sit in isolation room, but it is our assumption that they will not venture out for an exam in the first place,” a senior NTA official said.

The agency also claims they have ensured that 99 per cent of the students get the test centre of their choice.

The NTA has also written to states to help ease travel for the aspirants, and Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has been holding discussions with chief ministers, asking them to cooperate with the NTA for smooth conduct of exams.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan Sunday announced that the state government will provide free transport to students who want to travel to their JEE exam centres. “Government of Madhya Pradesh is arranging free-of-cost transport facility for students appearing in JEE/NEET exam,” he tweeted.

Students who wish to avail of the facility will have to call the 181 helpline or visit this government website.

The Odisha government has also promised free accommodation, apart from free travel. The Chhattisgarh government has promised travel aid

Also Read: Why students want NEET & JEE postponed again — health problems, Covid-hit preparations


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