Education Minister Joe McHugh has not ruled out the use of predicted grades as an alternative to the traditional Leaving Cert if the exams can't go ahead.
They have been delayed and are pencilled in to start on July 29, but that is subject to public health advice.
Under pressure in the Dáil about a "Plan B", he said they did "not anticipate things to be normal any time soon and so had "a moral obligation and duty to work on all contingencies".
The minister said ultimately the decision on holding the exams would be based on health advice and his efforts to inform himself included talking to Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation's Health emergencies programme, yesterday.
Raising concerns about the ongoing uncertainty and impact on students' mental health, several deputies pressed him on a system of predicted grades.
The minister did not rule it out, but pointed to "challenges inherent" in ensuring fairness and posed a question about what recourse students would have if they were a few points short for a college place.
Meanwhile, applications by 4,000 Irish students to British universities could be hit.
The issue was raised by Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, who spoke of a student who has been told conditional offers from UK universities would be lost if the Leaving Cert results aren't issued by August 31.
Mr McHugh said it was a "major issue" and "something we need to find a solution to".
He said he had spoken to his UK counterpart Gavin Williamson about it.
The minister also told deputies the secretary general of the Department of Education was in touch with the University of Limerick about its decision not to refund students who left campus accommodation early due to Covid-19.
"It is the only university not to have done do," he said. "I would ask them again publicly to reconsider their approach; it is something that should be done."