Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education & Skills Thomas Byrne says the government must now cancel this year’s Leaving Cert and work on fair alternatives.

His call comes following the publication of the government’s roadmap for easing the COVID-19 restrictions over the coming weeks and months.

Deputy Byrne explained, “This document contains details about the phased reopening of certain sectors and industry, and sets out dates for the proposed lifting of certain restrictions but not once is the Leaving Cert mentioned. I believe this is a huge oversight and it has added to the already heightened anxiety among Leaving Cert students.

“Under this roadmap primary and secondary schools are not set to open until autumn, yet in an announcement made by the Education Minister a few weeks ago, the Leaving Cert was earmarked to begin at the end of July. Leaving Certs are essentially back where they started in March – unsure what the situation is, and whether the exams will be going ahead.

“While this is a challenging time for everyone right now, it’s unfair to underestimate the stress and anxiety that Leaving Cert students are feeling as the uncertainty about their exams and their futures continues. The inequities inherent in self learning online are well known.

“I believe the government cannot continue to adopt this wait and see approach with the Leaving Cert. It is becoming clearer with every week that passes that it is simply not tenable for it to proceed. The time has come to make the call to cancel the Leaving Cert and take the pressure off students, parents and their teachers.

“I’ve discussed alternatives with some universities and with Minister McHugh over last few weeks. They do exist and we must now switch our focus to them. The current situation is unacceptable and unfair and is causing untold psychological damage to these students”.