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'It was just sprung on us' - dismay as school's out until end of March

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Ayoub Amer helps his twins, Rayhana and Ikram collect their books at Colaiste Bride

Ayoub Amer helps his twins, Rayhana and Ikram collect their books at Colaiste Bride

Ayoub Amer helps his twins, Rayhana and Ikram collect their books at Colaiste Bride

Sixth-year students are in despair across Dublin regarding the outcome of their Leaving Cert exams as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that all schools will be shut until March 29.

The Herald visited Colaiste Bride Presentation Secondary School in Clondalkin, where 970 panicked students were told to take all their books home yesterday afternoon.

"It's absolute chaos here this afternoon. The village is absolutely packed as the parents are coming to collect all their books," said principal Marie Therese Kilmartin.

Uncertain

"We've done a little bit of preparation. We were preparing for remote learning and yesterday we had advised our parents as a precautionary measure to collect books from today and tomorrow."

While the school has been preparing to conduct classes online, it is still uncertain if State exams, such as Irish oral tests which are scheduled in the coming weeks, will still go ahead.

"We have a large number of students preparing for exams. They're the ones that everyone is wondering, what will happen for the practicals, for the orals and they're going to be the priority," added Ms Kilmartin.

Leaving Cert students Jennifer Anago and Victoria Eguavoen told the Herald of their fears surrounding their oral language exams.

Their Irish oral is scheduled to take place on March 30, the day they return to school, with European language exams scheduled for the previous week.

"We don't know if they're still taking place at those times or if they'll be moved," said Jennifer.

"Now that the school is shut down, we have to study on our own and we don't have as much reassurance from our teacher.

"We don't know if what we're doing is right."

Victoria said: "We don't even know about the exams in June now. We don't know if they're going to be pushed back or not because we don't know how long the coronavirus will go on for."

Jenny Ekeziem, Kelsey Enroy and Emma Kate Farrell, from Clondalkin, were also concerned over the uncertainty.

"We were expecting Wednesday for us not to come back," said Emma Kate.

"But today was just kind of sprung on us."

Kelsey said: "We're told that our music practical is March 30 and our Irish orals are meant to begin then as well.

"We don't know if we should study for them or not because they might be postponed so we could focus on other things now.

"I just prefer to know when our orals will definitely be on."

Jenny said: "It's advised that we shouldn't gather in mass groups but staying at home for so long is not going to work well. We're told to see our friends to take a break from the study but we don't even have that option."

Mark Holland, the father of Chantal Holland, a Junior Cert student, said sending children home was a good idea.

"It seems like overkill, but I see the sense in it. Rather over-deal with it now, and have less pieces to pick up after," he said.

Chantal said: "I feel like it's good to be sent home because there's a lot of students and it protects the teachers.

"I was already concerned about my State exams but maybe I'll have some time to study over the two weeks. I'm a little worried about my art exam because you can't practise some of the drawing from home."