The debate over the conducting of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) 2020 amidst the pandemic has been going on in full swing. There are several sides to the debate, many claiming it to be unfair to conduct these exams during a health emergency in the country, they even say that it could further aggravate the issue than actually help contain the spread of the virus. There is also the other side of the debate who are supporting the Centre’s move to conduct the NEET and JEE 2020 exams during a time like this. Echoing this view is Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank who defended the Centre’s decision and say that this has resulted from the “constant pressure from parents and students” to conduct the examinations. 

   The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) 2020 have been dated to be held in the next month. During an interview with television broadcaster DD News, the Education Minister said that almost 80 per cent of the applicants for these exams have already downloaded their admit cards. “Out of 8.58 lakh students who registered for JEE, 7.25 lakh candidates have downloaded their admit cards… We are with students. Their safety comes first, then their education,” Mr Nishank said.

Regarding the reopening of schools in the pandemic, the minister said a decision will soon be arrived at based on the guidelines provided by the Home Ministry and the Health Ministry. In the lieu of maintaining safety procedures for students who will be appearing for the JEE and NEET 2020 exams, they have been asked to wear gloves and masks, along with carrying a personal bottle of water and hand sanitiser to the examination centre. Entry to the exam centre will be done in a staggered manner as students are made to pass through thermal scanners. Candidates who have a higher temperature that indicates that they might have a fever will be made to appear for the exams in an isolated room. 

The decision to conduct these exams during the pandemic has not been received well by students and parents alike. They have expressed grave concerns regarding the Centre’s decisions to conduct these exams during a serious time like this. Climate activist, Greta Thunberg, has also expressed in a tweet her support for the postponing of the national exams. Politicians from different parties across the country are in support for the postponing stating that while the virus is already dangerous, flooding in states like Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Karnataka, among others, are going to make commuting difficult. Around 60,975 new cases have been registered in the 24 hours until Tuesday, increasing the number of active cases in India to 31,67,323, the Health Ministry said.