Covid-19 School Update
March 23rd 2020
As we embark on another week of school closure in these strange times we have all had to adapt to a new reality in our home and personal lives. Covid-19 has had, and will continue to have, various impacts on us all for the foreseeable future.
We have been given excellent advice from the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Department of Education and Skills (DoES) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is critical that everyone, including students, closely adhere to these guidelines in the hope of slowing the spread of the virus. We are very aware that anxiety can be raised in such difficult times around areas such as possibility of infection, financial consequences for families, the impact on the Leaving and Junior Cert and school life in general.
As we are now in our full second week of distance learning it is important, in as far as is possible, to maintain a normal routine. This is not holiday time for students, it is a time for continued study and work within the unusual parameters that we now operate in. Many students and parents have been requesting emails/passwords etc in order to enable a level of study and work to continue online. If you have yet to engage in this process, for whatever reason, please remember to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to reset passwords, etc.
State Examination students: – Attached you will find a press release from the State Examinations Commission in relation to cancelled orals and further information around exam matters.
We have 2 weeks to go until the Easter break where we believe it will be important to have a “break” of sorts. I would urge students to keep engaging with your teachers and ask everyone to be mindful that most of us are only learning and developing our understanding of how to use the online facilities. It is important that parents and students recognise that the online facilities which teachers are providing are only tools to help us maintain some connection with our students and to help provide some guidance for their learning during these unprecedented times. It cannot replace the face-to-face interactions and dynamics of school. My thanks go to you all, students, staff and parents/guardians for working and adapting to the current reality we are in.
Please continue to observe and diligently practice all guidelines being issued from the organisations listed above. The sooner we can limit and stop this virus the sooner we can all get back to a regular routine.
Please stay safe, healthy and focused. Maintain your physical fitness which will help with other areas of your life.
STATE EXAMINATIONS COMMISSION
Impact of School Closures on Examination Activities
As a result of the current closure of all schools in the State, the impact on the state examination activities scheduled at this time and in the near future has been considered by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills.
Consequently, the SEC is confirming;
- The cancellation of the oral and practical performance tests of the Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle examinations, which had been scheduled to take place from next Monday 23rd March to Friday 3rd April, and to award full marks to candidates due to take these tests;
- That schools and candidates are allowed flexibility in relation to the completion of other project work and coursework across a number of subjects which are currently scheduled to be completed in the period 20th March to 24th April. Students will now be allowed to complete this work up to 15th May, which will allow candidates time to complete this work.; and
- That the SEC, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills, will continue to monitor the evolving situation very closely and will act in accordance with Government and public health advice
These decisions have been taken on foot of a recommendation from the SEC, working in close collaboration with the Department of Education and Skills, acting in the best interests of students in the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in. The intention is to alleviate student concerns about the demands they may be facing into in the coming weeks.
The oral and practical performance tests will not be rearranged and full marks will be awarded to candidates for these components. The tests which have cancelled were due to have been held from Monday 23rd March and to run until Friday 3rd April. The tests comprise the Leaving Certificate oral tests in Irish, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Japanese; practical performance tests in Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle Music; and a practical performance test in Junior Cycle Home Economics. Awarding full marks for these cancelled components guarantees that candidates cannot be awarded a lower mark than they would have achieved in the test. The SEC considers that this is the fairest approach in the circumstances. In making these arrangements the SEC is stipulating that candidates will take their final examinations in these subjects at the level they indicated when confirming their subject choices to the SEC earlier this year, other than continuing to allow Leaving Certificate candidates to drop down from Higher to Ordinary Level on the day of the final examination.
In making these recommendations the SEC has been acutely conscious that the period from now until June is an exceptionally busy period for candidates preparing for their certificate examinations especially those getting ready for the high stakes Leaving Certificate. During this period of unexpected absence from school, candidates are bound to have concerns about the demands of examination activity when they return to school particularly as they will wish to refocus their efforts on their preparations for the written examinations commencing on the 3rd June. Student welfare is of utmost concern at this time and the SEC wishes to provide reassurance to students and their parents and to provide clarity about what they need to focus on during their absence from school.
At Leaving Certificate, students are working towards the completion of project work and coursework in various subjects with completion dates between 20th March and 24th April. At Junior Cycle, students may be completing assessment tasks and project work. In recognition of the current loss of class time during which much of the project work is undertaken, schools and candidates are now being allowed flexibility to complete this work up to 15th May, which will allow candidates time to complete this work.
The SEC and the Department of Education and Skills are continuing to monitor very closely the evolving situation regarding upcoming examination activities.
Candidates should continue to prepare for the practical examinations scheduled for the end of April and early May and the final examinations scheduled for May and June. In the period Monday 27th April to Friday 8th May, the timetable includes practical examinations in Leaving Certificate Art Life Sketching, Engineering, Construction Studies, and Junior Cycle Metalwork. There are also final examinations during May which will see these subjects being completed in their entirety before June (LCVP Link Modules on Wednesday 6th; Leaving Certificate Applied ICT on Wednesday 13th; and Leaving Certificate Computer Science on Wednesday 27th May). The written examinations are due to commence on Wednesday 3rd June.
Delivering the state examinations each year requires a partnership approach between the SEC, teachers, school principals and the education partners. The SEC will continue to engage collaboratively with the education stakeholders and the Department of Education and Skills in the weeks ahead. The SEC will continue to act in accordance with advice from Government and public health authorities in relation to this rapidly evolving public health emergency.