'Questions' still need to be answered over concerns linked to the feasibilities surrounding this year's scheduled Leaving Cert exams
Education Minister Norma Foley's insistence to hold Leaving Certificate exams in June has sparked concern among Longford's educational sector amid claims "questions" remain among students over its practicalities.
Ms Foley last night rowed back on an earlier Cabinet decision to allow Leaving Certificate students attend school three days a week and do remote learning on two other days.
That came after safety concerns had been raised by school leaders, parents, teachers, SNAs, and students over the decision to partially reopen schools as Covid-19 infections continued to rise.
Now, the focus has turned to exam scheduling as students continue to voice their concerns about sitting the traditional Leaving Cert in the summer.
Moyne Community School principal Des Cullen said last night's announcement had been made in light of the welfare of students, staff and parents.
However, he did accept queries still needed to be ironed out among students ahead of June's anticipated Leaving Certificate exams.
"There was a lot of stress and anxiety out there among students, parents, teachers and the decision was made in their best interests," he said.
"I do think there was concern about coming in for three days a week and then going back to doing remote learning for two days, that was not an ideal situation for anybody.
"I think with last year's calculated grades there is questions as to whether students would prefer the real thing or the calculated grading."
Fine Gael Councillor and Longford-Westmeath Education and Training Board member Peggy Nolan said it was time for the "finger pointing to stop" and for all parties as well as educational stakeholders to unite in the battle against Covid-19.
"It's very, very simple," she said.
"It's health over education so you have to choose. I am not a scientist, a doctor, all I am interested in is the welfare of our students and if Nphet and the scientists are telling us it is safer to keep our students at home then for me it is a very small price to pay for people to stay at home."
Cllr Nolan said she was acutely aware of the challenges affecting students' mental well being but insisted public health must take priority over the coming weeks.
"The Government is trying to govern a country and keep it economically stable and the task of NPHET and the scientists is to advise us and if there is concern there and students are asked to stay at home then that is what has to be done," she said.
"Do I think it's necessary? Absolutely."