A Cork principal has called for guidance from the State Examinations Commission (SEC) on the issue of the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert exams after schools across Ireland were told to close amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced yesterday that all schools, colleges and childcare facilities in Ireland were to close from 6pm.
Coláiste Éamann Rís principal Aaron Wolfe described the situation for schools as “unprecedented” and said it is a very worrying time for students preparing for state exams.
Speaking to The Echo, Mr Wolfe admitted there is also concern surrounding upcoming oral exams for Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate students as the state exams approach.
He called for guidance and advice from the State Examinations Commission on the issue, as well as on deadlines for admin work from schools.
“The main thing now is that children continue to practise good hand hygiene and prevent the spread of the illness,” said Mr Wolfe.
“It’s important that they’re using this time away from school constructively to study and keep up with school work, particularly those coming into exams this year.
“It’s a very worrying time for Leaving Cert students - some will be feeling very under pressure and worried about making up for lost time,” he added.
“They will hopefully use this time to study, complete exam papers, keep in touch with teachers but also importantly, keep in touch with our guidance counsellors.
“School guidance counsellors will have a big part to play in the coming weeks of students suffering from anxiety or other concerns.
“Our guidance counsellor is available through email for any student and they can call the student if provided with a phone number,” advised Mr Wolfe.
“We’re still here for our students and staff at this unprecedented time.” Schools across Cork had been preparing to close amid the current coronavirus outbreak in a bid to prevent further spread.
Teachers have told The Echo that they are preparing systems to teach and grade students from home over the coming weeks.
“In our school, all students have school gmail accounts and access to Google Classroom,” said Mr Wolfe.
“They will be sent out work every school day and they will be able to send in their work.
“Our teachers will be able to use Google Classroom to correct that work and give feedback,” he added.
“So teaching and learning will still happen to a limited extent.”
Speaking in Washington, Mr Varadkar said cultural institutions will also close but public transport will continue to operate.
Shops, restaurants and other businesses are to remain open but limitations are being placed on indoor and outdoor gatherings of people.
Indoor gatherings of 100 people or more are cancelled, while outdoor gatherings of 500 or more are also cancelled.
The Taoiseach said: "This will involve big changes and enormous sacrifices but we are doing it for each other.
“The economy will bounce back, lost time at school can be recovered, we must look out for each other.
These measures will remain in place until at least March 29.