The release of the Leaving Cert results and CAO offers will not happen until early September - and further delay entry to college for first years.
The two key events in the annual school-leavers’ calendar look set to run at least three weeks later than usual because of havoc wrought by Covid-19.
Education Minister Norma Foley has announced that calculated grades will be released on September 7, with the first round of CAO offers to come on September 11.
More than 60,000 students are now awaiting their results under the calculated grades process that replaced the June written exams this year.
And about four in five of those have applied for a college place through the centralised, CAO application system.
Because of the disruption to education caused by the coronavirus, third-level colleges have already pencilled in later re-opening dates.
But due to the latest delay, these dates may have to be pushed back further.
The cohort most likely to be affected would be first years, who must await, and decide on, their CAO offers.
While there was no common starting date agreed between higher education colleges, provisional dates for first year orientation tend to be either the weeks beginning September 14 or September 21, with other students scheduled for a week or two later.
Even with a later start, the college experience will be much different, with students on campus for face-to -face classes and other activities only some of the time because of the social distancing constraints forced by the coronavirus.
Ms Foley said the portal for students to confirm they wish to receive calculated grades will open from Monday July 20 at noon.
"Calculated Grades will provide you with a formal record of your work and achievements in second-level school. They will be fair and reliable, and will be accepted by employers and colleges," the Minister said.
"The results will be issued on 7 September, so that they will operate seamlessly with the CAO system and UCAS in the UK.
"All of this means that you have certainty that you will be able to use the grades to move on to the next phase of your life, either in work or further study, in the autumn.
"I know how important and exciting this ‘moving-on’ phase of your life is to you, and I am determined to enable you to do that.
"So, when you receive a text message next week, please respond and opt-in to receive your grades on the portal," she added.
The Department of Education has said that all students whether they opted to receive the calculated grades or not, will have the option of taking the Leaving Certificate examination later in the year.
Students unhappy with their calculated grade can seek an appeal, with this process open from September 14.
Meanwhile, Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris, said today that he was working with the further and higher education sectors on a safe re-opening plan for their colleges,
He said he was now awaiting input from public health experts and will be published by the end of the month.
As no two colleges or courses were the same, Mr Harris said he expected them to respond in a unique way to how best they can safeguard their students and staff, based on public health advice.
The framework would be similar to the schools re-opening plan, which is also expected to be published within the next two weeks .
And like schools, the plan will include some financial support to help the sectors buffer the costs and losses they face because of Covid-19, which is currently the subject of discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DEPER).
The minister, who was speaking at the launch a new further education and training (FET) strategy, also addressed the schools re-opening issue.
Referring to the Government’s decision to pause phase four of lifting of Covid-19 related restrictions he said it “really increases the ability to make sure we get our kids back to education at end of August/September”.
The minister said “getting children back to school is a major priority ”, adding that it would have been “grossly irresponsible to ignore public health advice to move forward with phase four.”
Since the calculated grades process was announced in May, the official line has been that the Leaving Cert results would be released as close as possible to the normal time, which is mid-August. The CAO offers would follow a couple of days later.
However, embarking on such a mammoth and complex task presented an unprecedented challenge, with no way of knowing exactly how long it would take.
With no June exams, a specialised unit set up in the Department of Educaton, known as the Calculated Grades Executive Office (CGEO), will issue between 400,000-500,000 individual subject grades to the 60,000 or so students.
The process started with more than 700 schools awarding estimated marks and class rankings in each subject for each of their Leaving Cert candidates
The estimated marks and class ranking were provided by a teacher, agreed by a group of teachers in the same subject and signed off by the principal, who sent them into the CGEO.
The CGEO is tasked with standardising the results on a national level to ensure comparability between schools and that a common national standard is applied.
Standardisation involves comparing students in a school have fared at the Leaving Cert over the past three years to the national standard and will also review the performance of this year’s candidates against their overall performance at Junior Cycle.
It may mean that estimated marks awarded by a teacher are adjusted to bring them into line with what would be expected from the school, based on historical statistical data from the State Examinations Commission (SEC).
The standardisation process has attracted controversy with fears that it would lead to ‘school profiling’ and penalise disadvantaged students . The Department of Education has denied that that would be the case.
The calculated grades process is being overseen by an independent monitoring committee under the chair of Dr Aine Lawlor, former Director of the Teaching Council.