As many as 7.71 lakh students studying in class 10 in Karnataka appeared for their Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) board exam on Thursday, three months after they were postponed due to lockdown restrictions.
The English and Kannada second language exams saw a turnout of 98.3% of the 7.85 lakh students who had registered to write Thursday's exams in the state.
Unlike other years, students faced a series of tasks to reach their seats. Even though the examination began at 10:30 am, students arrived at their schools as early as 7:30 am in the morning under the scrutiny of teachers and even police officials and media personnel stationed in schools in the state.
Students were asked to wear masks and maintain distancing, and were subjected to a temperature check before they could sit down in their respective rooms to write the examination. Examinations were held in 2289 exam centres across the state.
Some students travelled by boats since the exams are being conducted when the southwest monsoon is active in the state while others had to cross state borders under the watchful eyes of nodal officials who received them at the border.
As many as 367 students from Kerala writing the exam in Dakshina Kannada district were transported in buses from Talapady and dropped to their exam centres.
In all, 555 out of 614 registered students from Karnataka's five neighboring states - Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa and Maharashtra - wrote the examinations on Thursday. Two examination centres were in Goa state and officials from the state collected the bundles of question papers from the border to conduct the exams. Usually, the students would travel south to Karwar to write the exams but due to the coronavirus outbreak this year, it was decided to open exam centres in Goa itself.
201 students in the state turned up with symptoms of COVID-19 and wrote exams in a separate room. Similarly, 998 students in the state had turned up from containment zones and were made to write exams in a separate room.
Students who shifted to their home town during the prolonged lockdown have been allowed to write exams from the nearest centre.
In a tragic incident, a 53-year-old father of a student writing his exam died after an accident.
In another incident, Abhijit, a student from Madhugiri in Tumakuru had to skip the examination after it was found that his mother had returned from Andhra Pradesh recently and had developed symptoms of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, in Shirahatti in Gadag district, police officials gave a lift to students writing the exams due to a lack of public transport buses available.
While states like Tamil Nadu and Telangana decided to cancel their board examinations this year, Karnataka decided to go ahead with caution. The state had to submit SOPs of the examination guidelines to the High Court and Supreme Court to ensure that there are no legal hurdles for conducting the exams.
The state government, particularly Education Minister Suresh Kumar, now hopes that the remaining examinations go off without trouble in the state.