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Government working on 'contingency plans' for Leaving Cert

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that there was a very good chance state exams would go ahead as planned this summer.

Education Minister Joe McHugh is working on a contingency plan for state exams.
Education Minister Joe McHugh is working on a contingency plan for state exams.
Image: Rollingnews.ie

Updated Mar 24th 2020, 5:05 PM

THERE IS A “very good chance” the Leaving Certificate will go ahead as normal this summer, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said this evening. 

Speaking at a press conference setting out the latest government measures to tackle Covid-19, Varadkar said that Minister for Education Joe McHugh was working on “contingency plans” to allow the Leaving Certificate to go ahead. 

Earlier today, McHugh had said that schools would remain closed until 29 March, and will not be opening immediately after that.

The minister said there should be further confirmation today or Wednesday of the extension of the school closures.

While Varadkar didn’t provide any detail on the plans for exams, he acknowledged that the plans covered the Junior Cycle but “obviously the Leaving Cert is more important”.

“We’ll do everything possible and feasible that we can to let the Leaving Cert go ahead so that young people can start college as normal in September or October if that’s possible,” Varadkar said.

He encouraged students “to continue studying for those exams because there’s a very good chance that they are going to happen”.

Schools closing

Less than two weeks ago, Varadkar had announced that schools, colleges and public institutions would close until 29 March but indications have been that this would be extended well into next month at the earliest.

Speaking on Galway Bay FM this morning, McHugh added: “My commitment to the students and for the students who are maybe having their breakfast this morning and maybe getting ready to study and really, really putting in such an effort, my commitment to them, and the department’s commitment is, we want to make those exams happen.

“Obviously we are going to be influenced and directed by the health experts.

“We don’t know where we are going to be in terms of the peak of this virus.

“I think we owe it to those young people who are studying and putting in the effort to see this through to try to have these exams this year. When I say this year, I mean the dates that are defined for this year.

“That’s what we are working towards.”

So far, 1,125 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the Republic of Ireland and six people have died.

With reporting from Sean Murray

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