A major question mark hangs over the fate of this year's Leaving Cert exam in the face of a public health crisis that could go on for months.
The Leaving Cert is about more than being a mechanism for gaining a place in higher education, but that is how it is viewed by most.
A threat to the exams is a particularly serious blow for almost 47,000 Leaving Cert students - about four in five of the candidates - who have applied to the CAO and depend on their grades for college entry.
The disruption to education in the weeks ahead will add to the anxieties of students, particularly sixth years, at an already stressful time.
Exam candidates are a priority in the current crisis, but much will depend on how long the shutdown continues, and whether it affects the sitting of the June exams.
The State Examinations Commission (SEC) is actively working with the Department of Education to develop contingency arrangements for the exams, both the Leaving Cert and at Junior Cycle.
Already, the orals and practicals, due to take place in schools from March 23 to April 3, face serious disruption, because schools are closed until March 29.
The department said that for orals and practicals scheduled for the period of closure, the SEC would work with schools to reschedule these as soon as practicable. However, with the closure expected to extend beyond March 29, the entire schedule is in doubt.
The written exams taking place over three weeks in June, for which about 120,000 candidates are entered, present an even bigger logistical nightmare. The schedule around the exams themselves, marking the papers and making CAO offers is already very tight, leaving no scope for a delayed sitting - even if there was agreement to do that - while also allowing freshers to enter college in September.
In an education system with total reliance on terminal exams, there is no easy alternative, and all options are being explored.