Parents or students who seek to influence a Leaving Cert grade awarded by teachers will be reported to the Department of Education.
he move comes amid evidence of pupils who were quick off the mark to send messages of appreciation to teachers, which could be interpreted as seeking favourable treatment, after it was announced that grades calculated by teachers would replace traditional exams.
Many schools have already sought to head off the problem by advising teachers that tuition finished last Friday and not to have any more than necessary contact with their Leaving Cert pupils or parents.
The Department of Education, teachers, principals and school managers are determined to deter any attempts to compromise the integrity of teachers in the face of the unprecedented approach to assessment this year.
The exams have effectively been cancelled because of the logistical difficulties of trying to run them, even through August, because of social distancing and other public health requirements forced by Covid-19.
Instead, subject teachers will award an estimated mark of what they believe their pupils would have achieved if they sat the exams, under normal conditions, in June. It will be signed off by the principal and sent to the Department of Education, which will use statistical methods to standardise results across the country, linked to traditional performance patterns.
There is unanimity within schools about the need for safeguards to protect teachers.
"We have to have arrangements in place whereby people can't be actively canvassing," said John Curtis, general secretary of the Joint Managerial Body, which represents management in more than half the second-level schools in the country.
National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals director Clive Byrne said necessary safeguards would need to be put in place. He believed that under the protocol being worked on, if a teacher felt they were subject to inappropriate contact, they would make a note of it and report it to the principal, who in turn could report it to the department.
Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) president Seamus Lahart said teachers "should not be subject to any undue pressure whatsoever in relation to their role. The TUI's call for a protocol also envisages protection for students, as to favour one would be to put others at a disadvantage".
Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland president Deirdre MacDonald also called for protections.
Work is continuing on agreeing what may be permissible in terms of engagement between teachers and pupils/parents and the consequence of any serious attempt to influence a teacher.
Finalising the detail of what would constitute serious lobbying will be tricky, with distinctions to be drawn between what may have been intended purely as a jokey comment and a serious attempt to influence a grade.
Schools must also be mindful of the normal rites of passage associated with the end of school and the need for staff and sixth years to be able to connect and say goodbye to each other, particularly as they have not been in class together since March 12.
Meanwhile, details of the scale of the logistics involved in running the exams have emerged and outline the "military precision" that would have been involved in marshalling students to and from exam halls and a raft of other challenges and demands.
The presentation, which ultimately forced the move to abandon summer exams, pointed to the extreme challenge for students, schools and the State Examinations Commission and concludes "as close to normal as possible is nothing close to normal".
It raised the need to avoid congregation before exams, referring to: "Military Precision - queuing systems and movement patterns worked out in advance" with two metre distances marked out in the yard, or around the school perimeter and routes to centres mapped out."
It presented two potential timetables and one, where there was only one exam a day, would stretch for 32 days - including the August bank holiday and Saturdays - up until September 5, with results on October 27 and appeal outcomes on December 2.
Among the questions it asked was whether temperature checks and/or testing facilities would be required at schools and whether exam candidates should wear masks.
It also queried what would happen if a student or superintendent fell ill after the exam had started, and whether "any coughing or sneezing (eg hay fever) disrupt the session? What about the impact on anxiety levels?"