30 March 2020
By Bryan Smyth
The Junior Cert should be cancelled to alleviate pressure on families during the coronavirus crisis, Cork South West Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan said, joining calls by Fianna Fáil education spokesperson Thomas Byrne that all efforts be directed to ensuring the Leaving Cert goes ahead.
Cancelling the junior cert will help households with multiple primary and secondary school-age children manage the double-barrelled stress of working from home and home-schooling, Deputy O’Sullivan said.
“The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis brought with it enormous pressures for parents and households as virtual and home-schooling became a necessity, Anxiety levels are at an all-time high particularly amongst leaving cert students. This worry is heightened by the fact that the Department of Education and Science have yet to make any definite calls in relation to the leaving cert. Students need clarity, parents need clarity” Deputy O’Sullivan said.
“The Leaving Cert must be a priority and all energies should be given to supporting Leaving Cert students. It’s a matter of resources for families, as well as the department.”
“Two weeks ago, as we began reacting to this crisis, homeschooling seemed like an inconvenient but necessary measure that might be weathered short term. That’s changed.
“Parents, many themselves working from home, are coming under enormous pressure from the sheer weight of daily schoolwork that need looking after.”
With schoolwork now online, many families have access to just one computer. This increases the challenge where there are two or more school-age children in the house, Deputy O’Sullivan said.
While there have been heroic community efforts from organisations such as the GAA to facilitate the collection of laptops to help parents and children work from home, it is too much to ask that the pace and volume of that work be maintained.
Other suggestions put to Deputy O’Sullivan by concerned teachers and parents include:
- Summer holidays to be brought forward to immediately after the Easter break
- School authorities and parents cease preparing and teaching for all Primary and Secondary level classes except for Leaving Certs
- Redirecting resources into converting our school classrooms into socially-distance safe exam hubs for the Leaving Cert
“These suggestions should be considered and debated,” Deputy O’Sullivan said.