While there has been much discussion about the cancellation of this year's Leaving Certificate, the decision affects those who had been preparing for the exams most of all.
Sixth year students preparing for the Leaving Certificate and Leaving Certificate Applied exams continued with their study after schools were closed in mid-March due to the pandemic. The Department of Education initially said that this year's written exams would be delayed until July 29.
On Friday, Minister for Education Joe McHugh announced that the written exams would not go ahead this year following public health advice. Instead, students would have the option to sit the exams at a later date or accept a predicted grade in each subject.
Leah Redmond McAnanama, head girl at St Mary's College in Arklow, said she was 'disappointed at the decision because I've been working towards my final exams. Over the years, I'd think that class tests are not as important because they are not the final exams. But, it's also an opportunity to de-stress. It's a lot of stress to teach yourself at home.'
The Covid-19 crisis has led to the unprecedented calling off this year's written exams entirely. Instead, teachers will be asked to calculate an estimated grade for each student in each subject based on classroom assessments, mock exams and other records of the student's performance. The Department of Education will then review the calculated grade against national standards. There are still lots of questions about the fairness of the process and its impact on the CAO points process this year.
Leah is hoping to study geology at either Trinity College Dublin or NUI Galway in September. She is optimistic that she will get enough points to allow her to start the course, when the new college year gets under way in September or October.
Leah added she is 'still processing' Friday's announcement.
'My parents comforted me on Friday as I was a bit upset. They have a lot of belief in me and are very supportive. As long as I'm happy, my parents don't mind,' Leah said.
'I've been studying hard since Easter. It feels weird not to have to study and to be taking a break.'
Among her peers, there has been a mixed reaction to the decision to cancel the exams, Leah said. Most of the focus is on the loss of time with friends and classmates.
'There's also a sense of disappointment that we won't get to finish the year with one another. But, there was no way to do it that would have satisfied everyone.'
Leah added she would encourage other students to remember that the Leaving Certificate is a stepping stone.
'There will still be opportunities to succeed. No one knows how the predicted grades will play out. There will still be chances, if we work hard.'