CORK Life Centre director Don O’Leary has called on the Government to provide clarity on this year’s Leaving Certificate as quickly as possible.
The reopening of schools was among a number of issues discussed at yesterday’s meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19.
It is hoped a decision on how the Leaving Certificate exams will be organised this year will be made shortly.
“A decision has to be taken and they need to be upfront with students,” Mr O’Leary said. “There was a very unfortunate mess last year, which was very unfair on the kids.
"We have built the Leaving Cert up unfortunately and it always ensures there will be a points scramble.
“If we had planned properly, we could have had alternatives to the Leaving Certificate.
“We are now dealing with this pandemic for over 10 months and we are back to square one. These students have missed a lot of work both last year and this year.
“The students, staff, and their parents need clarity very soon. The Government needs to make the decision sooner rather than later so everyone can plan accordingly.
“We can’t afford to let this drag on, which only creates uncertainty.
“Kids are struggling with their mental health and this indecision will have a huge impact on them if it is not addressed soon.”
TUI general secretary Michael Gillespie still believes that the examinations can go ahead as normal.
“At the moment, there is a good possibility that the Leaving Cert can run,” said Mr Gillespie. “As we move closer, we will take into account different situations.
“I would still say a modified and evolved Leaving Cert can take place.”
Talks between teachers unions and the Department of Education are also expected to resume this week to try to get special education reopened.
Minister for Education Norma Foley is set to discuss this issue and the Leaving Certificate with the various unions, along with other partners in education.
Last weekend, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that schools would most likely re-open in a phased way, but not all students would be back at school by March 17.
Government sources have suggested that this phased reopening could begin with school-based education for those with special needs, followed by the return of Leaving Certificate students.
Primary schools nationwide would then return and the remainder of secondary school students would go back to school soon after this.