Photo for illustrative purposes only Image Credit: A.K Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: It’s a mixed bag of feelings for students taking the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) 10th and 12th grade examinations as the educational body on Wednesday postponed all exams scheduled from March 19-31.

New dates for the papers, which have been deferred across the world, are to be announced at the end of the month.

The decision comes in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The death toll as of Wednesday evening, according to the World Health Organisation, has risen past 8,000 and infection levels have soared beyond 200,000 globally.

In the UAE, pupils carrying sanitizer to schools had to obey stringent rules put in place by the UAE Ministry of Education as well as the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) while they worked towards their end-of-year exams. Now, they can breathe a sigh of relief – somewhat.

Smitii Nayak

For some, like 12th grader DPS student Smitii Nayak relief and anxiety vie for attention. “I guess it’s like two sides of a coin; one thing is I’m kind of relieved because now the risk of contracting the virus is much lesser, because there’s obviously such a huge risk- there’s always a crowd when we go to our centre,” she says.

“That’s not there anymore but I’m pretty anxious because the exams have been indefinitely postponed, we never know when it’s going to be held and that moment of relief ‘when you are done with school’ that’s not going to be there. It was supposed to get over a week from today and now we don’t know when it will get over so it’s pretty sad,” she explains in an interview with Gulf News.

Silja Vignesh, who is the mom of another 12th grader, Bala Vignesh, finds herself consoling him. “He [Bala] feels [frustrated]…he’s [been] preparing so much. He was counting the days of the exams getting over...but what to do? Because of this current situation we have to go through it.”

Educators on the other hand share a collective sigh of relief. “I think this is a right decision for the reason that safety is more important than anything,” says Vandana Marwaha, Principal & Director DPS Sharjah. “Looking at the situation, this is the right step, because whichever centre they use, the numbers are big. And so it’s best, they are kept protected and these exams can happen little later.”

Vandana Marwaha

When the question of whether this delay will impact the admission processes of the 12th graders, Pramod Mahajan, the Principal of Sharjah Indian School, explains: “On 31st they are going to declare the new dates and taking into consideration the admissions and all, they will speed up the process of evaluations, so I don’t think the result will be delayed. We’ll try our level best and nowadays, the way CBSE are expediting every process so they will take care of that.”

Pramod Mahajan

Rashmi Nandkeolyar, Principal and director of DPS Dubai, says: “We were hoping against hope that the few examinations that are left would squeak by before the situation became dire.

“It is a very challenging time for everyone and we have to do the best we can. Social isolation is the only way to stop the coronavirus from spreading.”

Mahajan concludes: “Ultimately, it’s the question of the life of a child, exams and all will be there - those things are secondary.”