The written version of the Leaving Certificate exam will be held in November at the earliest, the Education Minister has said.
The written exam was postponed this year and replaced with calculated grades due to the pandemic.
In May when the exams were postponed students were offered the option of receiving calculated grades for subjects and the alternative of sitting the exam at date in the future "when it is considered safe to do so".
Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Joe McHugh said: “It will be held this year and the earliest possible date is potentially November. I know I publicly stated I would like to see it take place at the Halloween break in October.
“The reason why it can’t happen in August is because the calculated grades are coming out and that is an enormous process.
“I publicly stated that I would like the results of the calculated grades to be out as close to the traditional date in August but there is no guarantees that will happen either.” Mr McHugh also said it remains his intention for schools to reopen at the end of August.
He said that guidance to enable schools comply with the requirements of the national return to work safely protocol are being developed.
He said people have to be cognisant that maintaining physical distancing in all situations is not possible or appropriate.
He said: “It may not be practical for children who are quite young and some with special educational needs.”
Mr McHugh also said he does not envisage schools will require “significant amounts” of PPE when they reopen next month or July provision for students with special educational needs.
“For principals who use their own initiative in purchasing PPE in the past couple of weeks, any equipment purchased will be reimbursed.”
He added there will not be a requirement for strict social distancing for children with special educational needs attending July provision, as it is neither “practical or possible”.