Although Nepal has not reported even a single case of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) yet, the country has adopted some measures to prevent the possible outbreak. The Government of Nepal has deferred major events like the Sagarmatha Dialogue with the virus continuing to spread globally. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on all the countries to remain alert against the epidemic and make necessary groundwork to contain the deadly virus looking at the spread of the virus at fast rate. Originated in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province in China in December 2019, the virus has so far spread to scores of countries worldwide. The epidemic has claimed more than 3,000 lives as of now. Over 93,000 people have been infected while the number of recovered cases has stood at about 51,000. It is matter of worry that figures related to deaths and infections have continued to show an upward trend despite various efforts underway. The disease has hit the global economy, especially the travel industry. The virus has affected China the most. However, cases in China have slowed down as the Chinese government has adopted aggressive preventive and control measures to contain the epidemic.
In its fresh bid to prevent the virus in Nepal, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) has directed the schools across the nation to conduct the final examinations up to the ninth grade by March 19. The ministry has issued a notice to all the schools in this connection keeping in view the increasing cases of the virus globally and possible transmission risks. After holding the annual examinations, the schools will remain closed until the new academic session begins. The closure of schools for a certain period may help control the spread of the virus from educational institutions such as schools and colleges that are naturally at higher risk of transmission. So, the step taken by the government to conduct the examinations at the earliest possible is commendable. The government took the decision in this regard after holding consultations with schools and other stakeholders. In line with the government instruction, schools are in the process of hastening the examination schedules despite potential difficulties in doing so.
This year’s Secondary Education Examination (SEE) is scheduled to be held from March 19. A lot of students will have to gather in the exam centres for this. The National Examination Board (NEB) and schools have to work in a coordinated manner to conduct the SEE by adopting adequate safety measures for preventing the spread of the virus. Schools could take an important preventive measure through alerting students against the possible transmission of the virus. They should also encourage students to use masks to remain safe from the virus. Through their social media accounts, they can urge parents not to send their children to schools when the latter suffer from fever, cough, breathing difficulty and other respiratory problems. If children show any of such symptoms, they should be taken to healthcare facilities immediately. It is essential for all the schools to make it mandatory for students and teachers to use medical masks, especially during school hours.