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03rd Apr 2020

#Covid-19: Government says plans are in place to ensure state exams go ahead this year

Cathy Donohue

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says, by “hook or by crook”, the Junior Cycle and Leaving Cert exams will go ahead as scheduled this year, despite the ongoing Covid-19 public heath crisis.

Speaking at government buildings yesterday, he encourages those who have been studying for their state exams to continue to do so.

“It’s still intended that the state exams will go ahead. The Minister for Education and the State Examinations Commission are drawing up options to allow that to happen”.

He said that the government really want Leaving Cert Students to be able to start college as normal in September or October and not to have to “lose a year of your life…or half a year of your life”.

They want to avoid all the problems that would flow from not having an entry year into college in the later part of this year as normal.

“The Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, is working really hard on a plan to ensure that by hook or by crook, the Leaving Cert goes ahead this year, and the Junior Cert too”.

He also said that after a cabinet meeting, the government has decided to defer by a year the “new method of allocating special needs assistants in our schools”.

This has already been piloted and it was due to be made mainstream but unfortunately, he said this is no longer possible on account of the loss of school time due to Covid-19.

He said it would be a decision for the new government regarding new timelines for this project. However, there will still be an increase of over 1,000 new SNAs this year.

The Taoiseach said a decision will be made next week regarding the current restrictions and at this point, it is too early to say if they will extend past Easter Sunday, April 12.

He also shared an update on childcare for health workers, saying that the government hopes to put a scheme in place here soon.

“We hope to be in a position in a few days time to provide some form of childcare for healthcare workers and essential workers. That will probably be in the form of childcare in the home”.