When to uncover my viola seedlings?

Chicago, IL(Zone 5b)

Hey guys! I also posted this question in the seed germination forum, but I thought I would try here as well. So last year I sowed a bunch of pansies and violas - several sorbets, penny red and karma rose blotch, and some flirty skirts. I gave them good bottom heat and total darkness. After a few days it looked like many had sprouted, but the seed hulls were still attached with no emerging leaves so I left them in there. After a couple of more days, once the leaves finally broke through, they were so spindly and weak that most didn't survive, eventually falling victim to damping off once I placed them under the lights.

So my question is, should I uncover them if the seed hulls are still attached? What do you think?

Thanks, guys! :)

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

I uncover mine as soon as I see about 75% germination....w/hulls

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