The Leaving Cert should be cancelled now.
Waiting until the beginning of June to be told what the detailed arrangements are for this year is not fair. Students and teachers, not to mention families, are all affected by the uncertainty. It is an additional burden on young people.
The coronavirus has really shocked the nation. Yes, our medical teams and all their back-up personnel are doing a fantastic job. But at a cost.
Ireland needs as much certainty that it can get at this point in time. This is particularly true of the sixth-year students in every county.
About 60,000 pupils are due to sit the exam, but more than 300,000 other people will live every day of the Leaving Certificate, if it goes ahead.
These are the younger brother and the older sister, the parents, the grand parents as well as the aunts and uncles. Ireland is quite unique in this regard, compared with other countries in Europe.
What other country has, on the front page of the newspapers, the details of the English, Irish, Maths, as well as History exams? And it goes on, and on.
That's pressure no student needs, particularly now.
Covid-19 still has some time to run. No one knows how long, and will not know, perhaps until the world discovers an effective vaccine.
But we do have time to provide some certainty for the 60,000 who really need it now.
The Government should announce that because of the uncertainty of the duration of coronavirus the Leaving Certificate for 2020 is being cancelled.
Such a decision would bring us into line with number of countries, such as England and Wales, France, the Netherlands, as well as many African countries. The International Baccalaureate has been cancelled as have International A levels.
A decision to cancel the Leaving would immediately reduce the current level of worry and fear that is widespread in homes up and down the country.
In its place, the Department of Education and Skills should, in consultation with the Second Level Education Community, prepare an alternative set of documents for each of the students in their final year in second level schools.
A decision now to cancel the Leaving Certificate would create enough time for the teachers and principals to provide these documents for each student.
This could be done in the first three weeks of the month of June. In principle, each young person would then leave second-level school with a comprehensive document, outlining their coming of age. It could include house exam and mock exam results and other material.
This is what is used in many developed countries for students who have come through primary and second-level education.
What the students do next is a matter for them and all the third-level institutions. These would be very inclusive in the range of options which are open to them.
In normal times, sixth-year students and their teachers would now be on the last lap of their preparations for the end of their second-level studies and revision of seven or eight subjects.
The six best subjects, in terms of marks, form the basis for calculating the CAO points which the students normally work out when they open their Leaving Cert results in early August.
But that is not going to happen this August, given the present arrangements. And then, with business as usual if the Leaving does go ahead, the Central Applications Office will announce the real winners, who get the most points.
This is now all up in the air as far as many people are concerned at the moment.
According to what has been indicated so far, these highly important Leaving Cert results will issue some time in September. This is just too late, on present known plans, to fit in with the rest of the beginning of the school year.
This uncertainty, not to mention pressure on the front-line students, will affect an awful lot of families. Many of them will also be coping with the economic fallout of Covid-19.
Do we really need this multifaceted exam pressure and uncertainty on top of everything else?
This does not need to happen and it can be stopped - now -while we have the time to cancel the Leaving Cert for 2020.
Ruairí Quinn is a former education minister and leader of the Labour Party