The school year could be extended into the summer holidays to make up for lost class time during the coronavirus crisis.
The move would be aimed at saving the Leaving Cert as it could take place in the late summer or early autumn.
The school year has been thrown into chaos by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Government sources say several options are being examined but it’s too early to say when schools might return.
The current closure of schools to March 29 is expected to be extended to work its way up to the Easter holidays on April 6.
The Easter break continues until April 20.
That’s just six weeks before the start of the Leaving Cert begins on June 3. But oral and practical exams are now in doubt.
Thereafter, it is unclear when schools will return but at least a month of school time is expected to be lost.
The Junior Cert is regarded as expendable, as it can be postponed for a year, if necessary, although such a decision has not been taken.
But there is concern about whether the Leaving Cert can be saved.
“Everything is being looked at and we don’t know what will happen yet, but it’s all open on schools reopening and the school year,” a source said
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned the crisis could continue until the summer.
With schools due to return in late April, the lost time could be made up in June for secondary schools and July for primary schools.
The Leaving Cert could even take place in July or August to allow enrolment in the new college year. Parents will want their children to catch up on lost school time, a Government source said.
Teachers could’ve be asked to give up some of their summer holidays to teach their pupils.
“Doctors and nurses are answering the call now. Others will be asked to step up at later points in the national interest,” a senior source said.
Colleges have begun to say they will probably not be returning for the remainder of the academic year.
The University of Limerick told its students yesterday they need to be “prepared for the very real possibility that there will be a resumption of normality for the remainder of the final term and that the campus will remain closed until some time during the summer”.
Dublin City University told its students “all teaching and assessment or examinations will be conducted online for the remainder of this academic year”.