The Leaving Certificate

 

Sir, – As a doctor working in the community medicine branch of public health, and a mother of a Leaving Cert student, I am completely at a loss as to how these proposed exams on July 29th are still being considered as a viable option.

Added to that, the notion of bringing these 60,000 students back to school for two weeks before their exams, as the country is slowly exiting from a lockdown, beggars belief.

The incubation period of Covid-19 is up to 14 days, so we may potentially have multiple clusters of this deadly infection among our students after their fortnight of classes, before they even get into their exam halls.

And how do we handle the not unlikely scenario of large groups of students being identified as “close contacts” of confirmed Covid-19 cases?

This would mean that although they are not symptomatic themselves, they would be required to restrict their movements as per guidelines (ie basically having to miss their own exams) to prevent further spread of the disease.

In simple terms, well students would be excluded from sitting some or all of their Leaving Cert exams along with those unfortunate enough to have contracted Covid-19.

Many students, including my own daughter, have underlying medical conditions. This places them at an increased risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19.

This is also a genuine worry for many families .

I understand that working out alternatives to the traditional exam is not a straightforward task .

However, these young vulnerable people are really suffering. They are isolated from the support of their peers, trying to study for an exam that might not even happen.

As a nation, Ireland’s response to this pandemic to date has been commendable.

Why are we falling short with the class of 2020? – Yours, etc,

Dr FIONA

DEVEREUX,

Lisnagry,

Co Limerick.

Sir, – My son is due to sit the Leaving Certificate this year.

There seems to be a lot of publicity around cancelling the exam, in favour of an estimated result.

Cancelling the Leaving Certificate would be extremely unfair to the students who are academic or who have been working very hard over the past few years to perform well in the exam. Everyone has had to step up during this crisis, and I urge the Government not to underestimate our young people in their ability to deal with their own setbacks. Let them be the year that can say they prevailed, instead of having to compromise.

I note in Germany that secondary schools have reopened with social distancing in the classroom, and I hope that the same opportunity can be afforded our sixth years, if only to sit the exam in August. – Yours, etc,

SANDRA SCHMIDT,

Rathgar,

Dublin 6.