While COVID cases in Andhra Pradesh increase in drastic proportions, the Andhra Pradesh Government remains bullish about conducting the 12th Board exams on May 5th, 2021; while Andhra Pradesh is estimated to touch its Covid peak between May 5th and May 13th. The Government said that the exams are being conducted given "the future of students" as they need marks to enrol in college. For the past two weeks, the students have been pleading with the Government for the postponement of the exams regarding the health threats associated with the conduction of the same. The decision of the Government to commence the examination process comes when the state continues to witness a surge of COVID cases daily. In one instance, more than 93 students and eight staff members were affected from a single school reported Times of India. On Wednesday, Andhra Pradesh recorded more than 14,600 cases in 24 hours which is the highest ever since the pandemic broke out last year.
A Fertile Ground For Being A Super Spreader
Nara Lokesh, National General Secretary of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), expressed his concern for the millions of students going to appear for the exam. "Andra Pradesh is the only state in India that is still conducting exams in May. This involves more than a million students across 1400 exam centres. Every other state has either cancelled or postponed its exams for a later date. Why can't we do the same and use our resources fully to fight the pandemic?" he said. In defence, the Government assured to keep ambulances outside examination centres and providing PPE kits to the invigilator. However, the state has already seen several instances of insufficient medical facilities and incompetence in adherence to the Covid protocols. One such example is in Palasa, Srikakulam, where a dead body had to be carried on a bike due to the unavailability of ambulances. The Andhra Pradesh Government had earlier conducted practical exams in small slots with around 60 students in each place. Even then, the Government failed to effectively incorporate social distancing measures which resulted in several students getting infected with the virus—considering the comparatively lower number of cases at the beginning of April. Arjun Atluri appeared for his practical exams on the 6th, 7th and 9th of April, after which he tested Covid positive on 9th itself. His entire family had simultaneously tested positive following that on April 11th, some other of his friends who went for the exams had also tested positive.
Visually Challenged Left In The Dark
A worsening health situation means the visually challenged students cannot get a scribe to assist them. "I can't see the world, but the CM can," said Nagesh as he urges the Government to open their eyes and see the chaos around the state. "This only shows how insensitive govt & our leaders lack inclusivity and attention to the needs of challenged students," he added. The mental state of the students is also a big question; many were witness to innumerable sufferings, pain, and even death in their known circles. A website launched by the task force of TDP asked students to sign a petition for the cancellation of the exams. This site recorded over 3.4 lakh signatures. "With a sudden upsurge in the number of deaths, there's so much anxiety within the kith and kin. At this point, We can't anticipate anything to get better until the next few weeks," says Sowmya, a 12th board student.