Published: 13th September 2020
NEET 2020: Social distancing and SOPs went for a toss outside exam centre in Kerala, much to cops' chagrin
The medical entrance examination is held from 2 pm to 5 pm for over 15.65 lakh students in a single shift on September 13
"No parents must crowd in front of the school building," a police officer screamed at the top of her voice. "Just pray for your children. They are safe in the school building. Come back at 5 pm," she told the parents of NEET aspirants in front of Toc H Public School, Kochi. The school is one of the many NEET centres in the state. The medical entrance examination is being held from 2 pm to 5 pm for over 15.65 lakh students in a single shift on September 13.
However, many turned a deaf ear to her and continued waiting in a crowd outside the gate, watching their wards move inside the building. Masks clung on to most of the faces, on some faces, it slipped a little below their noses. "I was a bit scared," says one such parent. "But my son has been preparing for this for years. I was hoping that no postponement happens. After all, his life mustn't have a hindrance," he says, echoing a sentence by a Supreme Court judge who dismissed a plea that sought the exam's postponement.
All was well inside the gate. Students stood on marked squares, their temperatures were checked upon entrance and they were passed hand sanitisers. But sadly, this wasn't the case outside the centre. Queues that extended over a kilometre had students standing quite close to each other, waiting for their turn to enter the hall. One wouldn't guess that the pandemic wasn't contained, if not for the masks on their faces and the bottles of hand sanitisers on their hands.
When pointed out that no social distancing was maintained outside the gate, a police officer said, "The school management should have thought about it. You can't blame it on us." "What can we do? We have been asking them to move back since the beginning," says another police officer, distressed. "We've been managing the traffic. You can direct the traffic well, but not people. You can't push them aside," he says.
The sights outside the exam centre, were, however, not unusual. A mother made her son drink some water. A student ran to her mother, handing over a pair of earrings to her. Another mother Lalitha stood with her daughter away from the crowd. "Of course I am tense. But my daughter's career can't be put in jeopardy. She's been preparing for quite some time for this exam. I've now made sure that she's equipped and has had a heavy meal," she says.