… rumours mount towards evening

Phurpa Lhamo 

After months of waiting, the board examinations kicked off yesterday.

Worse scenarios and situations were expected, but the exams went smoothly, said one of the thromde officials.

Among other challenges, one was moving over 35 Class X students from Pelkhil School exam center to Druk School after a security personnel in Pelkhil School tested positive.

Education Secretary Karma Tshering said that a primary contact of the security personnel was being tested. He added that students were secondary contacts, so they would be tested if the primary contact tests positive.

With students from Pelkhil, Class X students from ELC High School falling in the mega zone were to have their exams in the center.

After students were taken to Druk School, they were separated and took their exams in different classrooms.

By yesterday afternoon, parents of a few children who were isolated in one of the four hotels for examinations heard of a student testing positive.

A parent, whose daughter shared a room with the student who later tested positive said that students from primary contacts and those from clustered areas or red buildings weren’t separated.

He added that his family members were only by default in clustered red zone in Chubachu and had not tested positive from two rounds of tests.

“My Class 12 daughter was directly put up with a primary contact from Babesa who has now tested positive.”

Another parent also shared similar concerns.

According to her, her son had helped the girl to carry luggage and also shared a bus ride to the isolation rooms.

She added that it would be more worrying if there are symptoms and the child couldn’t take the exams.

“It is really difficult to take the examinations and since it has begun we hope that it could be completed well.”

Kuensel learned that all students were tested prior to their arrival in the isolation rooms. The student who tested positive had earlier tested negative.

According TAG member Dr Sonam Wangchuk, the second version of the ‘red buildings or red cluster management protocol,’ red buildings or red cluster include residential buildings or structures from where Covid-19 positive cases are detected; residential buildings or structures where primary contacts are home quarantined; cases are detected from two or more buildings clustered in time and space and primary contact are home quarantined; and where positive cases are managed at home due to medical and social reasons and approved by surveillance team.

“Therefore, the management has been done as per the existing protocols. Everyone or anyone in red building or cluster are considered as primary contacts.”

Kuensel also learned that with increasing number of red buildings and clusters, primary contacts and Covid-positive cases, four isolation hotels identified for students to take the exams were filled.

E-passes were also issued for parents with students living in red buildings and red clusters to drive to the exam centers.

Rumours and  speculations mount 

As examinations began yesterday, rumours of positive cases in Druk School and a possible leak of Class XII English I paper emerged on social media platforms last evening.

Druk School Principal confirmed that there was no positive case detected from Druk School as of yesterday evening.

As for the papers, the news was first shared on Telegram group chat called Bhutan News 3, which has over 40,000 members. Photographed papers were shared in the group and were later removed.

According to a BCSEA official similar incidents also happened last year with mathematics papers.

Fearing the same, this year, invigilators were advised not to share the papers to the teachers as it could spark rumours and gossip.

The official said that there was ‘no way’ that the paper was leaked.

Many still speculate that the papers could have been shared by a teacher or invigilator after the exams were conducted for the students to crosscheck their answers.

Others speculated that the leak was by teachers who had framed the questions.

However, it is yet to be confirmed on the person who shared the papers.

Further, Kuensel learned that markers, examination conducting officials test developers among others sign the letter of undertaking. Declaration of conflict of interests also signed.