The dilemma of board exams

The board exams for students of Class X and XII, which have been rescheduled for February 28, are just two days away.

This is according to one of the three options the education ministry has considered if the current Covid-19 pandemic is contained and the lockdown is lifted.

Under this option, students in grades X and XII, in schools or districts where the current surge of Covid-19 cases is contained and there is no lockdown or movement restriction, will take the board exams on Monday under the new schedule.

The board exams usually starts on December 1 and ends by December 13. However, in 2021, the education ministry postponed the board exams to February 2022 and issued a notification to the Bhutan Certificate of School Examination and Assessment (BCSEA) that the main examinations will be held from February 14 – 28.

In the meantime, schools are presently preparing to take the exams either in self-containment mode or walk-in (as day students from home) depending on the schools’ capabilities and regulatory approval. With an increasing number of positive Covid-19 cases being reported from around the country, an important question is whether students and teachers are provided with the safest possible environment.

A few also believe that it would be appropriate to hold the exams later if the situation worsens. They believe that there should be understanding at such times when students and their parents are concerned not only about their future but also about their lives.

Regarding questions on the security arrangements in the schools when conducting the examinations, officials from the Ministry of Education and BCSEA said they are prepared for the examinations and have even implemented a Standard Operating Procedure (SoP).

Meanwhile, it is encouraging that a detailed Covid-19 prevention measure has been developed for the exams. But a SoP alone is not enough. There is also a need to ensure that schools continue to implement these prevention measures diligently.

While schools must rigorously implement social distancing, regular cleaning of surfaces, daily screening, wearing masks, and hand washing in schools and during exams, they must also have a detailed protocol to follow if a positive case is reported at a school or a plan if someone at the school tests positive for Covid-19.

Aside from those conducting the exams, it is important that parents and students also do their part to ensure safety during the exams. Parents and students must also take the responsibility for what their children do in and after school. If students do not follow prevention measures at school, they need to understand that they are only putting themselves in danger unnecessarily. The most important and best defense against the Covid-19 is still our behavior.