Why Conducting KCET For COVID +ve Students is Unsafe, Insensitive

Asymptomatic COVID-19 positive students may write KCET in dedicated exam centres, says the Karnataka government.

Published24 Jul 2020, 08:14 AM IST
Education
3 min read

Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas

If you test positive for the novel coronavirus, even if you are asymptomatic, staying far away from people would be a pressing concern. Worrying about writing exams, however, would not ideally be something on your mind.

But not if you are in Karnataka, where you will be forced to ask yourself – should I or should I not write the KCET?

According to the state government, the Karnataka Common Entrance Test (KCET) will be held between 30 to 31 July and will even be open to asymptomatic aspirants who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Karnataka has been witnessing a surge in the number of coronavirus cases. But, clearly, that is not a good enough reason for the state government to postpone or cancel the KCET.

For those who don't know, KCET is for students seeking admissions to engineering, pharma and agricultural professional courses in the state.

This year, 1.94 lakh aspirants have enrolled for the exams. Now, the government has said that ambulances will be arranged for asymptomatic COVID-19 positive students after they produce a fitness certificate and that their exams will be held in dedicated centres and rooms with doctors in place of invigilators.

But, that's not the only problem.

Over 1.94 lakh Aspirants at Risk

How do students in general, who are not coronavirus positive, commute when the state hasn't fully unlocked?

“My centre is very far... it is almost 30 kilometres away from my house. So, I am going to take a cab or a bus and no one is sure that I am not going to get affected by the commute.”
A KCET Aspirant

Even if an aspirant doesn't catch the virus while travelling to the centre, what is the guarantee that he or she will not contract it at the exam centre. That, too, during a pen and paper exam which requires exchange of answer scripts and question papers.

Is it even possible to follow health guidelines across 497 centres in the state?

“Let us suppose, in the best case scenario, that the exams happen well and not many students are affected. But, some students might be infected due to low immunity or personal health problems. We see in the news everyday, about the lack of availability of ambulances, beds, and doctors in Karnataka. Wouldn’t conducting such a large-scale examination make the situation much worse?”
Praneeth Kumar, KCET Aspirant

Impact on COVID-19 Positive Aspirants

Karnataka government would want you to believe they are thinking about the students, but are they?

“Allowing patients to attempt the exam will further confuse their minds. They will be worried about their own health and will also be confused about what the future will be like for them.”
Abhaya, AIDSO Activist

Forget Karnataka, there are some 1,871 students outside the state who will have to travel hundreds of kilometres just to write the exam.

Although they will be exempted from quarantine rules and will be allowed to stay in Karnataka for only 96 hours, without being quarantined, when they go back home, say to Kerala, they will have to undergo compulsory home quarantine for seven days.

Imagine the risk that all of them will be exposed to or, for that matter, will expose others to. It’s clear that writing KCET is not more important than the health of students.

So, what should the government do? "Please postpone KCET. This is for the benefit and for the future of the state," one aspirant said.

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