There were many tears last Thursday when students were told that school was closing that evening.
ot all students and not even most students, but there were tears. Even the most outwardly cool young people will be very unnerved by being sent home for a minimum of two weeks when they should be starting practical exams.
I worry for those struggling with study and I worry for those who need guidance in their work. But we are where we are, so this must be taken as an opportunity to embed knowledge and prepare for the exams.
Teachers will be keeping in touch with their students as much as possible, assigning work and engaging in discussions, but the systems necessary to facilitate this type of communication will be better developed in some schools than in others. Even if students are not able to communicate with their teachers, there is a lot they can do.
Students will be able to concentrate on one task or subject for a number of hours at a time, a luxury which is rarely available during the school week, or even at weekends when homework must also be completed. This time can be used to practise writing essays, completing a sample Leaving Cert paper or revisiting a topic a number of times over the course of a week to really embed it to memory.
In order to manage time and prevent tiredness from taking its toll, it may be helpful to follow the school timetable as a guide to what to study, and when.
For example, students should get up at the usual time for school and begin studying at the time their lessons would normally start. If they should have an English class at 9am for 40 minutes, then they should study English for 40 minutes at 9am.
They should take breaks in line with the school timetable and use non-exam subject times to focus on subjects they find most difficult. This way, by 4pm, they will have completed seven hours of revision.
It is important to try to find a quiet place to study, which may be challenging with younger siblings around. But they should pick the best spot possible and study in the same place every day.
Later in the school year, teachers tend to focus on revision, so there will be time to make up work missed. As students were not allowed to take exam project work home, catching up on this later may be a challenge. It will, however, be made easier if they are ahead in revision when they get access to these projects again.
This is a difficult situation, but everyone is in the same boat. Students should focus on what they can achieve and avoid the temptation to meet up with friends.
Whatever happens next, good study habits will help. Every 20 minutes spent studying is potentially another few points for CAO and will bring candidates a little closer to their goal.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin
Q When the school closed last week, I didn't get my Educational Impact Statement before I left. Now it is too late to send it to the CAO. Have I missed out on DARE?
A The CAO has advised it will not be extending the closing date for HEAR and DARE supporting documentation as a result of the school closures. It has, however, stated it will be understanding of difficulties experienced as a result of school closures. If you are missing any documentation from your application, it advises sending what you have as soon as possible (as always, get a certificate of postage) with a letter explaining what is missing and why to the CAO, forwarding the rest of the documentation when it is available.
Email Aoife at aoifewalsh@ independent.ie; Twitter @edguidance.