THE level of uncertainty around the Leaving Certificate exams for 2020 is causing students undue levels of stress and anxiety, according to the principal of one of the county’s leading secondary schools.
Mr Shaun Burke, Principal of St Gerald’s College, Castlebar added that there is also a level of uncertainty for teachers, management and the various stakeholders over the logistics of how the exams might take place if the Government choses to pursue them.
There was no reference to the State exams in the recent Government roadmap laid out to restart the country over the course of the coming months, leading to fresh uncertainty over whether they will go ahead or not.
However, there are two weeks of school planned in July for Leaving Cert’ students ahead of the scheduled start of exams on July 29, subject to public health advice.
“There are a number of factors to this entire situation,” Mr Burke told The Mayo News. “The first is student wellbeing. From being in contact with a number of school management teams, we all have students who are experiencing various levels of anxiety, stress, lack of motivation with the uncertainty etcetera.
“There are also logistics from a school point of view to be considered. How exactly are we going to facilitate the exams? In terms of social distancing measures, we will all need a number of centers to facilitate the student numbers, but will we be able to get invigilators to supervise the exams?
“Also, what happens if one of these students becomes sick during the exams; are the other students permitted to continue even though they have experienced high exposure, due to being in a confined space with said individual?,” he continued.
“Will the Department of Education be able to get examiners to correct the exams? Who is going to welcome 300 documents that may have Covid-19 particles contained in them?
“And with the proposed measures to bring students back for two weeks, as I stated already, how can we ensure that the students will maintain the restrictions before and after coming to school?”
Mr Burke admitted that both the Department of Education and the State Examinations Commission are in the ‘unenviable position’ of having to find a solution that ticks the boxes on ‘both health grounds and fairness to the students’, who is says are the the ‘epicentre of this’.
“It’s a position that I would not like to be in, but I know they’re doing the best they can for all parties involved.”