The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting almost every aspect of our lives at the moment.
Bar those working in essential services, the rest of the population is off work and instructed to stay in their homes for the majority of the time until Easter Sunday April 12 at the earliest.
While around 120,000 Irish Leaving and Junior Cert students have seen their lives turned upside down in the last month.
Those set to sit the Leaving Cert, about 55,000 of them, have been particularly inconvenienced as the one set of exams they have spent the past five or six years preparing for are now in jeopardy.
They have been out of the school setting since March 13 after they were closed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
On March 19, the Department of Education announced that Leaving Cert and Junior Cert orals and practical exams were cancelled and all students would be awarded full marks.
However, with the written state exams just over two months away, the Department have been silent on what contingency plans, if any, are in place should they not be able to begin on June 3.
All the time, students have been taken out of the routine that they have been used to for the past five or six years just moths before the all important exams.
So, we decided to reach out to the schools in Laois and ask those getting ready to sit Leaving and Junior Cert exams how they are getting on.
What their routine now is, how their school are trying to help them and whether they believe the exams should be postponed or done online if they cannot proceed on the scheduled date.
So far we have heard from Portlaoise CBS’ Eamonn Delaney, Scoil Chriost Ri’s Kate Corrigan, Mountrath CS’ Seth Burns Mooney, Colaiste Iosagain’s Emma Dunne, St Fergal’s Niall Coss, Portlaoise College’s Lauren Mills and Heywood’s Dervla McDonagh.
Up next is Knockbeg College student and Killeshin native Ross Bolger.
1 – What is your daily routine at the moment?
I do my best to be out of the bed by around 10 o’clock most mornings to avoid sleeping in until the afternoon. I usually get a bit of breakfast and then study until the afternoon.
In the afternoon I take a break and either watch Netflix or kick a ball around outside or go for a few runs. After that I try get some more study done. When I finish up, I unwind by playing some playstation with my friends.
2- What supports have your school provided for you and have they been useful?
Teachers have been assigning work and uploading notes on office 365 which is very helpful. Teachers have also been correcting project work through email.
One negative aspect is sometimes teachers assign work in areas of office 365 that some students wouldn’t be familiar with and the work is hard to locate which leads students texting each other asking what the work is or how to access it which can be very frustrating.
3 – Are you getting out for much exercise?
Everyday I aim to get out for some exercise whether it be going for a kick around or going for a run or simply doing a home workout in the garage with a few weights.
I think it breaks up the day nicely and keeps you busy although it can be difficult to motivate yourself when you’ve no idea when sporting activities will be back.
4 – How do you feel about the decision to scrap the oral/practical elements of some subjects and give everyone 100% across the board?
I know some people don’t agree with the decision but I think it was the right call. In my case and the majority of students I’ve talked to cases it was very difficult to study for the orals when the situation was up in the air as we had no date to work towards and lots of rumours were circulating.
I think people who are arguing back and forth about the decision are wasting their time because nothing will change,the decision has been made.
5 – Do you find it hard to motivate yourself to study for the exams as it is unclear if the exams will even go ahead as currently scheduled?
It is hard to find motivation when you hear a new rumour everyday and everyone is constantly guessing what will happen with the exams.
Eventhough we are in a rare situation I don’t think it is an excuse to slack and not study.
6 – Are you able to interact with your friends? And if so, how are you doing this?
I still interact with my friends by texting them everyday and the occasional group call.
Playing playstation is also a way I keep in touch with them during quarantine.
7 – How do feel young people are being portrayed in the media at the moment? They are being blamed a lot for ignoring social distancing guidelines. Do you believe this is a fair criticism?
I think rules will always be broken it is inevitable we don’t live in a perfect world.
I don’t think its fair criticism as the majority of young people I know are obeying the rules but there will always be a percentage that don’t.
8 – If the Coronavirus crisis continues and you can’t sit your exams in June, do you think they should be postponed or should exams be facilitated online?
If the exams get postponed I know from talking to students it will be extremely difficult to motivate ourselves to study during summer especially when the exams are being dragged out.
I don’t think online exams would work because it would be very easy to cheat, even if you weren’t cheating there could always be the speculation that you did cheat.