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Our mental health

A discussion about guarding mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Impact of School Closures on Examination Activities

The State Examinations Commission has developed an FAQ document for all exam students following the announcement of the postponement of the State exams

Announcement on 10th April - Postponement of the Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle Examinations.

You may have heard about the decision to postpone this year’s Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate examinations. At Leaving Certificate, all final written examinations due to take place in May and June will be rescheduled to a new timetable commencing at end July/early August. At Junior Cycle, the written examinations are postponed and will be rearranged as school based tests when schools reopen.

Below you’ll find a few questions and answers to try and explain what the changes mean, who is affected by them and why this unprecedented action was taken. There is no perfect solution to the difficulties our education system is facing as a result of school closures and the impact of measures to stem the spread of Covid-19.

But these decisions are being taken with the best interests of students and their families in mind. We know that this is a time of real stress and worry for you. In making these decisions we wanted to try to provide some certainty about your examinations.

Why was this decision necessary?

The ongoing public health emergency means that at the moment we cannot be sure that it would be safe to bring students together to sit their examinations as normal in June. Students need certainty about the start of their examinations a number of weeks in advance, so acting on the best available public health information, we believe that by the end of July, it will be possible to hold the Leaving Certificate examinations under the conditions required by the public health authorities.

When will the new timetable be available?

Other than advising that the rescheduled Leaving Certificate examinations will commence in late July/August it is not possible right now set out the examinations timetable. The public health situation remains fluid and so decisions in respect of the details of running the examinations can only be made closer to the commencement date. The SEC plans to issue these detailed arrangements to schools in early June

What advice would you give to Leaving Certificate students at this time?

You should continue to prepare for your examinations by engaging in the teaching and learning arrangements that have been put in place for you by your school. We know that this is a really stressful and challenging time, so we also recommend that you stay in touch and connected with your friends,

classmates and your teachers online and with your family for support. You also need to take rest and a break from study over Easter and for at least two weeks in June.

Why are the Junior Cycle examinations postponed?

In line with public health restrictions, it is not possible to run both sets of examinations in schools simultaneously and the decision reflects the priority given to running the Leaving Certificate examinations so that students can transition to the next stage of their lives. Under normal examination arrangements, examination candidates need far more space than students under normal classroom conditions. Runningtheexaminationstypicallyutilisesasignificantamountofschoolaccommodation both as main examination centres and as special examination centres for candidates with special educational needs. Retaining all of the examination centres but halving the number of candidates by not running the Junior Cycle means that it will be possible to safely run the Leaving Certificate examinations in line with the current public health guidelines.

Can the SEC not run the Junior Cycle examination when schools reopen?

Running these examinations centrally would create a significant level of disruption in schools at a time when it is intended that school life will be returning to normal. The intention is that schools will have flexibility over the running of these school-based examinations in the autumn.

Did you consider running the examinations on-line this year?

Running online examinations is neither a practically viable nor a desirable arrangement to make in reaction to this issue without proper planning and in an unsupported environment of over 120,000 candidates not only sitting examinations online, but doing so from their homes. We need to ensure that we can deliver examinations on a level playing pitch to all candidates and online delivery presents very real issues of equity and fairness, as not all candidates have access to ICT, to broadband and to a suitable location for taking examinations. There would also be very significant risks to the integrity of the examination process.

What measures will be taken to protect the health and welfare of candidates coming to take their examinations and the superintendents and other school staff involved in conducting the examinations in schools?

We will strictly implement public health advice for candidates and superintendents including in special examinations centres. In addition we will be working with the school stakeholders in the lead up to the examinations to put in place necessary safeguards in schools at examinations time in order to minimise the risk of infection, acting at all time on public health advice in the best interests of all involved.

We are considering how best to support examination superintendents who have a critical role in the delivery of the examinations which will include operational and procedural changes to safeguard their health and wellbeing.

Last year there were alternative examinations for Leaving Certificate candidates who suffered a bereavement at examinations time. Will there be alternative examinations this year?

It is likely that some candidates will be unable to take their examinations later in the summer due to a family bereavement. Others may be unable to attend on health grounds, as they may be ill or in quarantine or isolation. The SEC and the Department are considering appropriate alternative arrangements so that candidates in this situation are not disadvantaged compared to their peers.

10 April, 2020 - Minister McHugh Announces Postponement of State Examinations

Changes follow updated health advice regarding school closures until further notice

  • Leaving Certificate written examinations postponed until late July/August

  • Junior Cycle examinations in June replaced with school-based exams and assessments early in the new school year

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD has today (Friday 10 April 2020) announced a series of changes to the 2020 State Examinations as part of measures to respond to Covid-19, including postponement of the Leaving Certificate examinations.

The decisions have been taken on foot of updated advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Minister McHugh said plans were being put in place for the postponed Leaving Certificate examinations to begin in the last week of July or early August, subject to public health advice.

Junior Cycle final examinations due to take place in June will be replaced by school-based exams and assessments held early in the new school year.

A series of other decisions has also been taken –

  • As part of the wider public health measures, schools are closed until further notice.
  • Practical examinations for Leaving Certificate students which were due to have been held in May are deferred. They will be rescheduled for late July/early August.
  • The new Leaving Certificate exam timetable will be confirmed in early June.

Minister McHugh said: “All decisions we are taking in relation to rescheduling exams are based on current public health advice and put the best interests of students first. The welfare of students and that of their families is front and centre in all decision making.

“The final arrangements for the exams, the exam centres, social distancing and other measures will all be determined by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) on foot of public health advice in June. I want to thank the SEC for its efforts to put in place these revised arrangements.

“Students and their families have been seeking clarity. Today’s announcement addresses that. It also provides them with several weeks of advance notice to prepare for the examinations. I hope it helps to alleviate some stress being experienced by students and their families at this time.

“Asking Leaving Certificate students and their families to refocus their attention from June to August is not something we do lightly. I know it will not be easy. However, I believe it is the fairest way of assessing students and giving them certification of achievement in school and a pathway to higher and further education and training, apprenticeship or work.”

Minister McHugh also said: “Students with special educational needs will be fully supported in sitting the rescheduled Leaving Certificate examinations in line with the reasonable accommodations as already arranged for them.”

Minister McHugh said the intention was to allow at least two weeks of class time, in school, before the Leaving Certificate examinations begin.

“Great work is being done by schools and teachers to connect with students and to keep them learning. We must give teachers, principals and school staff huge credit for their commitment to supporting students, in their schoolwork and in their wellbeing. And we want to provide students and teachers with an opportunity to build on that,” the Minister said.

As part of the changes to the Junior Cycle, discussions will take place with teacher unions and school management to allow these examinations, linked Classroom-Based Assessments, Assessment Tasks and project work to be completed as school-based assessments early in the next school year.

Minister McHugh acknowledged the positive engagement he has had with unions, management bodies, the further education and training and higher education sectors on all of these issues.

“I am grateful for the co-operation shown by all concerned, in what is a very challenging situation for our young people, their families and teachers. I am confident we can continue to work together in a supportive spirit to help secure the best outcomes for students,” the Minister said.

Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “The tertiary level institutions look forward to welcoming this year’s Leaving Certificate students who have applied to enter their courses. I appreciate the particular challenges these students have had to face and I welcome the flexible approach indicated by the sector to enabling these students to take up a place in the year ahead.”

The admissions process for higher education, managed by the Central Applications Office (CAO), will operate as closely as possible to the usual timeframe for offers and the entry date for first year students will be delayed.

The Department has asked the Higher Education Authority and the higher education sector to explore ways of assisting access to higher education for students from under-represented groups.


Notes for Editors

School closures

  • Schools were closed on public health grounds at 6pm 12 March and remain closed until further notice.
  • Students have lost 15 classroom instruction days to date, since the closure of schools.

Leaving Certificate statistics

  • More than 61,000 students are expected to sit the Leaving Certificate or Leaving Certificate Applied in 2020.
  • This includes 44,396 students sitting the established Leaving Certificate and 13,668 for the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme and 2,999 sitting the Leaving Certificate Applied.

Orals and Practicals

  • Leaving Certificate oral language and some Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle practical performance examinations had been scheduled to take place between 23 March and 3 April.
  • These were cancelled and candidates awarded 100% for these components.
  • Today’s announcement does not change that position.

Practical projects and Course Work

  • A range of subjects involve these elements – Computer Science, PE Performance, Technology, Art, Agricultural Science, Agricultural Economics, History, Geography, RE, Politics and Society, Music Composition, Construction Studies and Home Economics (Textiles).
  • The deadline for submission of work will now be immediately prior to the commencement of the written examinations in the late July/August period.

Practical examinations

  • A number of practical examinations, supervised by school appointed superintendents and scheduled for 27 April to 8 May in Engineering, Art Life Sketching and Construction Studies and a practical and written examination in Computer Science scheduled for 27 May will now take place in the late July/August period.

Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) and LCVP Link Modules

The Leaving Certificate Applied is a distinct, self-contained two-year Leaving Certificate programme aimed at preparing students for adult and working life.

LCVP is a Leaving Certificate programme with a Strong Vocational focus. It may be taken alongside other subjects.

  • LCA Personal Reflection Task, scheduled for completion by 1 May, will now be completed by the commencement of the written examinations in the late July/August period.

The following will be rescheduled for the late July/August period.

  • LCA Oral Examinations
  • LCA practical performance tests in Hotel Catering & Tourism; Office Administration and Customer Care; Active Leisure Studies; Hair & Beauty; and Agriculture/Horticulture
  • LCA ICT practical performance and written examination.
  • LCVP Link modules written examination.


24 March, 2020 - Covid-19 Statement from the Department of Education and Skills

Press Release 24th March 2020

All schools, pre-schools and further and higher education settings will remain closed to students until 19 April 2020.

The decision has been taken following advice from the NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team) as part of efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.

All young people and children are urged to practice social distancing, and to minimise physical contact to keep themselves and others healthy and to limit the spread of infection. This should include minimising social contact, avoiding meeting up and keeping physical space of two metres between each other. Parents and guardians are urged to support young people and children to follow those simple guidelines.

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD said: “This is an extremely difficult time for everyone, not least students and their parents.

“The decision to keep schools closed until after the Easter break is based on public health advice. It is a hugely important aspect of our continued effort to limit the spread of Covid-19.

“My message to students facing exams is that they should keep focused, keep working and try, as much as possible, to prepare as normal for the state exams. We are doing everything in our power to make sure those exams happen.

“Teachers and students have answered the call to remote learning with exceptional flexibility and adaptability. You are all a credit to the education system.

“I am also deeply conscious of significant work being done to ensure continuity of learning across our higher and further education institutions. The impact of emergency measures has not stopped education, it has inspired innovation and we are indebted to all those continuing to provide education in these trying times.”


Department Of Education and Skills
25 March 2020

Dear Principal and Teachers

I refer to my letter to you all of the 13 March, following the decision to close schools to students announced by the Taoiseach on 12 March. In my letter I asked you all, as school staff, to work to put in place arrangements to continue the delivery of education to our students in these extraordinary times. As teachers and principals you play animportant role in young people’s lives and ongoing support from you during the current public health crisis is vital.

I want to acknowledge and thank you for the huge work that you have undertaken since then to provide continuity of learning for students through online platforms, email and other resources, particularly where access to digital resources is more limited. I also want to acknowledge the work undertaken by other staff to support this effort through, for example, making school buildings available to teachers to access material and IT resources. This work is critical to supporting students and their ongoing learning and is very much appreciated

As you will have heard there has been a further announcement by the Taoiseach that, in line with public health advice, schools will remain closed until 19 April.

In addition to maintaining ongoing engagement with students, one really important message you can assist with, is to convey to students, the absolute need to practice social and physical distancing, and to minimise physical contact with each other, to help avoid the spread of Covid-19. This should include advice to avoid meeting up and in all circumstances to adhere to HSE guidelines. As part of your school community, parents and guardians should also be urged to support their children to maintain the restrictions on congregating for the safety of all in their community.

In order to support you in getting this important public health message across to your school communities information notices (in 17 different languages) are available here:

The Department is working to put in place more guidance and support for teaching and learning in the context of the current school closures. It is important to ensure that all students are supported in a planned and consistent way to continue their learning. However we appreciate that you are best placed to know your own students and to use the suite of resources available to you, both digital and any other means, to actively engage with your own students in a tailored manner.

A collaborative effort, involving the Department, management bodies and other partners is underway to develop further support and advice and this will be made available on an ongoing basis.

This is an evolving situation and it is vital that as the education system continues to be in a position to respond to the latest public health advice as it emerges. Education continuity is critical, in this crisis, for students at all levels of the education sector. In that respect, all schools are expected to proactively ensure that all of their staff contribute to the continuation of educational provision for their students during this period. In this regard although schools are closed to students, teachers who need access to their classrooms, ICT equipment or other teaching resources can attend the school building, once HSE advice is correctly observed.

As outlined previously Scoilnet has a number of home usage supports for teachers and students to benefit from and Scoilnet will be updating the material available on its website regularly.

In addition the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) Digital Technology team has developed a new dedicated webpage of curated content to support schools and teachers engaged in distance learning in order to provide continuity to pupils/students. The page can be accessed at:

This is a very challenging time for schools, teachers, students and parents. It is critical that during these challenging times we continue to work together and that the focus of all is on the best possible outcomes for our students. The support of everyone across the sector is vital, as we all strive to ensure that this public health threat is dealt with as effectively as possible. The guidance provided by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) of this Department for parents, for young people and for teachers is also being updated on an ongoing basis, and is available at

Yours sincerely

Seán Ó Foghlú Secretary Generalpage2image3681878416

The Department of Education and Skills, its agencies and support services, will remain available providing advice and supports to the education sector at this time.


March 2020

Oifig an Ard-Rúnaí

Office of the Secretary General

Sráid Maoilbhríde, Baile Átha Cliath, D01 RC96. Marlborough Street, Dublin, D01 RC96.
T +35318896400 |

ACAMH Corona Virus and Child Mental Health

During this difficult time ACAMH will continue to be 'Helping you help others'. We will always be disseminating evidence-based information highlighting best practice. Do please visit our websitefor a host of free resources. Above all, keep safe and well during this difficult time.

Dr. Jon Goldin on child mental health and the coronavirus pandemic

New podcast, please share. How do we cut through the noise and focus on the facts? How can parents be better informed in relation to their child’s mental health? What does the situation mean for mental health professionals and their ways of working? Plus tips on self-care. Dr. Jon Goldin Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, working at Great Ormond Street Hospital explains in this podcast.

School Closure letter 12 March 2020

Griffeen CC Lucan

Thomas Omar Way


Co Dublin.

Dear Parents/Guardians,

As you are aware the COVID-19 virus is a fast-moving situation and the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has advised that any decision to close schools and Colleges will only be made on public health grounds. The decision to close schools has now been made at Government level. We have prepared a plan to keep teaching and learning going throughout the period of closure.

Please note the following:

  1. Following receipt of this letter GCC will communicate with parents/guardians through SMS-Text and with students via their school email account and Edmodo. Please ask students to check their email daily (Monday – Fri).
  2. Our teachers have been working on plans to continue delivering teaching during a period of closure.
  3. Students will be asked to make themselves available during the day to interact with learning content throughout the closure period. We ask students to structure their day and continue generally in line with their timetable.
  4. Teachers will deliver content and be accessible online via Edmodo during normal school hours, 8.30am-3.30pm, Mon- Fri.
  5. As per the schools Code of Behaviour and AUP (Acceptable user Policy) inappropriate behaviour/ interaction/ language or mis use of or on the learning platform will result in students being removed from this. A text will be sent to notify you of this action. Please ensure therefore that they are using this in an appropriate manner.
  6. Delivery methods will include use of student iPads. Access to Apps that are required are all available and have been checked on student devices.
  7. With regard students who may not have access to appropriate devices/wifi from home we will advise schoolwork based on texts.
  8. Students with additional needs will be issued differentiated work via Edmodo/email.
  9. The administrative team in the office will also be working remotely so the school phone number will not be answered.
  10. Emails will continue to be dealt with at
  11. Tutors will also be available during working hours (8.30-3.30pm) , Mon to Fri. Please be cognisant that emails will not be immediately answered but will be checked daily.

1st Year Esker – Maria O’Hara -

1st Year Sarsfield – Adam O’Faolain -

1st Year Shakelton – Sean Harpur -

1st Year Head - Colleen Fitzgerald –

2nd Year Elm – Fionnuala Quirke -

2nd Year Ash – Charlotte Kinsella –

3rd Year Griffeen – Jennifer Browne –

SNA support Amanda Pollard –

  1. Once plans are in place to reopen the school, you will receive a text message a few days beforehand.
  2. I would advise all families to view the videos available on the HSE and WHO websites which outline good etiquette around hygiene and keeping you and your loved ones safe. It is advised that if you are immuno-compromised or are worried about your health being compromised that you contact your GP or the HSE. We have an opportunity to come together to limit the impact of this disease, both on our physical health and mental well-being.

See the following links to HSE and WHO videos:

Regardless of the disruption that this is bringing, we look forward to continuing with you on your learning journey. Thank you for your co-operation.

COVID 19 Information Resources

How COVID 19 Spreads:

Please see below for the latest update from the Department of Education as of 10/3/20:

Resources for dealing with the Corona Virus can be found at the following link:

We would also like to direct your attention to a child-friendly interview that Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn did with RTÉ’s new2day programme last week, that may also be a useful resource when talking about Covid-19 with children and students.

Letter Sent to parents 11/3/20

11th March 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian,

We are sharing information with you as we put plans in place should school closure be advised in the coming weeks from the HSE. Please keep checking the website for updates. As per previous correspondence good hand hygiene is essential and needs to be encouraged at all times.

In the event of school closure, we have put the following measures in place.


Directions will be taken from the Chief Medical Officer from the Dept of Health, Dr Tony Holohan regarding any school closures, partial or otherwise.

You should continue to follow the and for accurate and informative information regarding Covid19, its symptoms and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

Both the Dept of Health & the Dept of Education and Skills will continue to collaborate in Irelands response to Covid-19.

If school closure is a decision made by the Dept of Health, you will be notified by text message from the school. Therefore, please ensure your details are up to date on the school text platform. A test message will be sent this evening. If you do not receive this message please email the school tomorrow at or call the office between 9.30am-12.30pm at 01 6212392 and update your contact details. All information will also be shared on the school website and Twitter accounts.

Class work:

All students have had their email accounts checked today and details such as usernames/ passwords are noted in school journals and in the Notes app on their iPads. Please take the time to log in with your son/daughter on their iPad and if there is a problem email

They may access their email via the school website using the red square in the top right of the website.

To continue engagement with subject content/ lessons etc. work will be facilitated online via the Edmodo platform.

To log onto Edmodo

  1. Using any internet browser log into
  2. Login in the top right corner using their school email address and password.
  3. This app will also be pushed to all devices in the coming days so it will also appear as an icon on their iPad.
  4. To access apps successfully please make sure your son/daughter is updating their iPads daily.
  5. Once logged in they will be able to communicate with the teachers, completing and submitting work as requested. This system should be logged onto daily as all work will be shared from here.If any major difficulties arise the school email account can be used as a back-up.

Kind regards,


Rachel McGrath



Talking to Children and Young People about COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Advice for Parents and Schools

 Children and young people need factual, age appropriate information about the virus and concrete instruction about how to avoid spreading of the virus. Without the facts, they often imagine situations far worse than reality. See

 Let the child/young person’s questions and their age guide as to how much information to provide:

o Very young children need brief, simple information and reassurance that they are safe and that the people they care about are safe. They may ask Will I get sick? Will granny/grandad die?

o Reassure them that the Government is working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy.

o Explain that at the present moment very few people in this country are sick with the virus.

o Tell them that not everyone will get the virus and that the vast majority who get it recover fully.

o Older children may need help to separate reality from rumour and fantasy. Either provide or direct them to where they can find accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control.

 Children can feel less anxious and more in control when given guidance on what they can do to prevent infection. Give them this information. Further information is available here.

 The posters below are available at the link There is also a link to a video the Deputy Chief Medical Officer answered some common questions for RTÉ Junior’s News 2Day programme here

o Children and young people look to the adults in their lives to guide them on how to react to worrying and stressful events. If the adults in their lives seem overly worried, their own anxiety may rise.

o If they are anxious, let them talk about their feelings and guide them in reframing their thoughts and concerns to a more helpful way of thinking.

o Give them extra attention and time, to talk about their concerns, fears, and questions.

o Remember they do not always talk about their concerns readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes etc.

o It is very typical for younger children to ask a few questions, return to playing and then come back with further questions.

 Reassure children and young people that many stories about COVID-19 on the internet may be based on rumours and inaccurate information.

o Remember factual information about the virus can help reduce anxiety.
o Avoid constantly monitoring or discussing updates on the status of COVID -19, as

this can increase anxiety.

o Try to limit their access to information on the internet/television/social media that might be upsetting to them.

o Remind children/young people that no individual or group is ‘responsible’ for the virus.

o Remind them that they should not make negative comments about others in relation to the virus.

o Challenge any negative comments they make or any stereotyping. Explain what negative comments mean if they are different to your values.

 Encourage children/young people to continue with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but don’t push them if they seem upset or overwhelmed.

 Maintain a normal routine as much as possible, keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring.



How to Properly wash your hands:

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2nd March 2020

Please see latest update from the department of health re Corona Virus

The letter is attached here and is also available on the website below under the heading:

‘Chief Medical Officer advice for parents and schools.’

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Please follow the link for most recent updates from the Department of Education

Please refer to the posters below for information about Corona virus and how to protect yourself.

Further information may be found at:


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Griffeen Community College,
c/o Kishoge Community College,
Ninth Lock Road,
Co Dublin

01 621 2392

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