Pressure is mounting on the government to clarify what form the Leaving Cert will take this year, as students continue posting on social media about the stress they are under due to the uncertainty surrounding exams.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said today that schools will not reopen at full capacity before St Patrick's Day, casting further doubt about the leaving cert taking the traditional form of in-person exams.
Despite Education Minister Norma Foley insisting she wants to see traditional exams take place, the State Exams Advisory Group confirmed after a meeting on Friday that it is exploring "alternative options."
A recently-conducted survey by the Irish Secondary Students Union showed that 81% of Leaving Cert students surveyed wanted the option of sitting a written exam or receiving calculated grades.
The survey received more than 20,000 responses, and 73% of those said they felt either 'very unsafe' or 'unsafe' with regard to schools reopening.
A further 75% said their trust in the Department of Education was 'very poor' or 'poor'.
Cork TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, who is Sinn Féin's education spokesman, hit out at the government about the lack of clarity.
"I was astonished when I heard the Taoiseach state that schools would not fully reopen until St Patrick’s Day. I am sure hundreds of thousands of parents, students, and staff were similarly taken aback.
Mr Ó Laoghaire said that an agreement on the return of special education needs to be reached as soon as possible. "If return to school will be phased, [the government needs to] to lay out criteria and a plan for that.
"It is also now abundantly clear that we need an urgent decision on the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert. Leaving Cert students deserve a choice, between an alternative and an exam, if it is possible to run them in the summer. But for that to happen, the Minister makes a decision now.
"Given it now seems likely Leaving Cert and Junior Cert students will miss even more in-class time and completing the courses will be even more challenging, this is even more essential."