Student seeks court order allowing him to sit Leaving Cert without facemask

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic the wearing face coverings is mandatory for students sitting the Leaving Cert examinations
Student seeks court order allowing him to sit Leaving Cert without facemask

Aodhan O'Faolain

A High Court challenge has been brought on behalf of a student who wants to sit his Leaving Certificate examinations without having to wear a mask.

In judicial review proceedings against the State Examinations Commission and the Minister for Education and Skills the student seeks various orders including one quashing a decision that he must wear a face covering during the examinations.

The student, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has brought the proceedings through his mother.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic the wearing face coverings is mandatory for students sitting the Leaving Cert examinations.

He also seeks a declaration that the requirement to wear a mask during the examinations amounts to breach of his Constitutional Rights and rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Migranes

Moving the application before the High Court on Thursday boy's mother said her son suffers from migraines and could not wear a mask all day at school.

This meant he was unable to attend school and had to continue his education from private tutors paid for by his parents.

His mother applied to the State Examination Commission for an arrangement to be put in place to allow him sit his exams without wearing a face covering.

However, the application was refused. It is claimed that decision is disproportionate, is unlawful and outside the powers of the applicant and should be quashed.

Tutors

The mother was also informed by the school her son attends that its teachers could not consult with his private tutors in relation to his predicted grades assessment.

This, his mother was informed, is because as a registered student in a post-primary school he can only receive estimated percentage marks from his full-time teachers and not from tutors giving extra tuition outside school.

In the alternative to seeking an order allowing him sit the exams without having to wear a mask he seeks an order quashing the respondents' decision not to allow private tutors who have been helping him to assist with his calculated grades.

Medical report

The matter came before Ms Justice Bronagh O'Hanlon on Thursday's vacation sitting of the High Court, who noted the mother's admission that a GP doctor did not want to provide a medical report in support of the boys claim about wearing a mask.

The judge said she was not prepared to grant the applicant permission to bring the action on an ex-parte basis. The judge instead directed that the application be made on notice to the respondents.

The judge said she was not making any findings in relation to the application, particular the aspect of the claim in relation to the wearing of the facemask.

However, she told the student's mother that there could be cost implications involved should her action be unsuccessful.

When the matter first came before the court on Thursday morning, the judge adjourned the matter for a period to allow the student's mother reconsider if she wished to proceed with the application for permission to bring the challenge.

When the court resumed on Thursday afternoon the mother said she wished to proceed with the application.

The matter will return before the court next week.

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