New Delhi, Sep 1 (PTI) Thousands of students appeared in JEE (Main) at exam centres here Tuesday amid stringent safety measures in view of COVID-19 pandemic, after weeks of uncertainty over the engineering entrance test and persistent demand from some quarters to postpone it. Some of the students said they were initially apprehensive about taking the test amid a pandemic, but did not face any issue at centres as all safety norms were properly followed.
Scenes outside the exam centres across the country as well as in the national capital reflected the COVID-19 new normal: staggered entry and exit for candidates, sanitisers at the gate, distribution of masks, and students queuing up with safe social distance among them.
There were 18 exam centres in Delhi and a total of 660 across the country, officials from the National Testing Agency (NTA) said.
The exam, which had been postponed twice in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled from September 1 to 6. Tuesday was the first day of the exam.
Shivani, who took the computer-based exam at the Arwachin Bharti Bhawan Senior Secondary School in Vivek Vihar, said she travelled from Dwarka Mor to the centre without facing any difficulty.
“Amid the ongoing protests to demand the postponement of the exam, I had thought the exam won’t happen. But somewhere, I didn't want it postponed as it would have led to more anxiety among students,' she said.
Requesting anonymity, another candidate at the centre said that all Standard Operating Procedures were followed inside the examination centre and students were made to sit at appropriate safe distance.
Niharika, who had come from Mayur Vihar, said that all exam materials were handed over to them after proper sanitisation.
'We were allowed to carry our own santiser also. At no point, we felt that our safety was compromised. We were also given a fresh mask inside the centre and all candidates were thermally screened,' she said.
Over 9 lakh candidates have registered for the JEE-Main exam for admission in engineering courses in IITs, NITs and Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs).
Archit, another aspirant, said, 'Social distancing was maintained as there were only three candidates in my room. We were given sanitiser inside. After the admit cards were issued, I was sure the exams would happen.' Chhaya Sharma, the mother of a candidate, said, 'There were of course fears about stepping out during the pandemic time. It is almost after four-five months that we are stepping out.” “I feel that students could not prepare for the exam the way they wanted to since coaching centres were shut. In a way, we are relieved that the exam finally happened today.' The NTA is taking several steps to conduct the crucial exam safely which included increasing the number of examination centres, alternate seating plans, fewer candidates per room and staggered entry and exit.
While the governments of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have assured students that they will provide transportation to candidates, a group of IIT alumni and students have also launched a portal to provide transport facilities to exam centres for the candidates in need.
The weeks leading up to the exam witnessed a growing chorus for postponing JEE-Main as well as medical entrance exam NEET over the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
However, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking postponement of the two exams, saying a 'precious year' of students cannot be wasted and life has to go on.
Based on the results of the JEE-Main Paper 1 and Paper 2, the top 2.45 lakh candidates will be eligible to appear for the JEE-Advanced, which is a one-stop exam to get admission into the 23 premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
JEE-Advanced is scheduled to take place on September 27. PTI SLB TIR TIR