Leaving Certificate student, Luke Casserly PICTURE: SHELLEY CORCORAN
Longford student and Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) secretary Luke Casserly has put out a plea for people to "please be considerate" towards students who are not happy with yesterday's decision on the State Examinations.
It was announced yesterday afternoon that Leaving Certificate Examinations would be postponed to later in the summer, rather than taking place in June as planned, while Junior Certificate Examinations have been cancelled altogether.
A report released by the ISSU earlier this month revealed that, of 46,000 second level students that were surveyed, only 19% of Leaving Certificate students and 9% of Junior Certificate students were in favour of postponing exams.
"Among the reasons supplied for this low favourability were the unparalleled additions of stress and anxiety on students, discrepancies in the quality assurance of educational supports, and the infeasibility of matching this calendar to students wishing to progress with their education abroad," read a statement by the ISSU yesterday.
But there are many people who don't understand why students are unhappy with the decision, according to Longford's Luke Casserly who as has people to "be sound" about it.
"Please be considerate and think about the countless students who are still extremely worried, stressed and anxious. This year is incredibly difficult for many in normal circumstances - this is made worse during a pandemic," Luke explained.
"Think about students with learning disabilities who have no supports right now. Students who for many reasons have no access to the internet or digital learning. Disadvantaged students who are already at a huge disadvantage in our system. Students who want to study abroad but have no certainty. Students who depend on the money they make in their Summer jobs to get by."
The ISSU is concerned about the effects the government's decision will have on the mental health and wellbeing of students who are already under so much pressure.
There are no additional supports as of yet to help exam students navigate through the extension of examinations, but the ISSU is hopeful that the Department will prioritise student support during this stressful time.
"There is still a large lack of clarity and certainty. There is no absolute guarantee that it will be possible to hold exams in July or August, and no concrete plan to make sure this process will be fair for students," said Luke.
"We are living through a pandemic; this decision was incredibly hard to make, and it's far from the most important issue out there - and rightly so."
The ISSU has expressed disappointment that the student voice "was not sufficiently consulted" before the decision was finalised, "despite students being the stakeholder most affected and being highly engaged over the last number of weeks".
This is a big deal to those who have been working hard throughout the year to get to the next stage of their lives, whether that be college, travel or work.
"These things must seem so small, and maybe even over-dramatic, for people who have their Leaving Cert behind them," Luke added.
"However, we live in a society that constantly tells students the Leaving Cert exams are the most important exams of their lives - it is not unreasonable for us to expect answers and fair solutions.
"Please be sound and consider how students feel. Stay safe and wash your hands!"