07 Dec 2021

'I even miss maths class' Covid-19 and its effect on the Leaving Cert class of 2020

coronavirus covid-19

Roisin Kirby, Leaving Cert studeent, Scoil Chríost Rí, Portlaoise

A lot has happened in the media recently regarding the infamous Coronavirus.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably sick of hearing about nothing else but the disease for the past few weeks.

Alas, I have decided to dedicate this article to talking about how Covid-19 is affecting me and other the 61,000 Leaving Cert students across the country.

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, all schools across Ireland have shut their doors and will remain empty for several weeks. Everyone knew that it was inevitably going to happen, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for Taoiseach Leo Varadkars announcement on March 12th. 

It’s hard to describe the atmosphere that lingered in my school after we all found out. As I’m sure it was the same in schools elsewhere, students were frantically emptying their lockers, teachers were throwing Edmodo codes at us, and there was a general sense of nervousness in the building. Nobody had seen anything like it before. As I write this, it has been nearly three whole weeks since the schools have closed their doors, and this has created many problems for all students, but mostly for us doing the Leaving Cert.

Firstly, the Minister for Education decided to scrap all oral and practical assessments, and instead award all students full marks for this component of the exams. This decision caused a mixed reaction among students. Some were delighted that a lot of work had been lifted from their shoulders. Others were relieved that we finally got some clarification. Personally, I wasn’t happy with the decision, and I know that a lot of other students weren’t either. To see that the hours of time and effort I put into learning Irish seanfocail and practising piano for music was basically for nothing felt like a slap in the face.

To be honest, it made me feel disheartened and frankly, unmotivated.  Undoubtedly, this decision will have a knock- on effect in the future; our written papers will probably be marked harder and points for certain courses will likely increase. However, it is out of our control, and us sixth years must now give our full attention to the written aspect of our exams.

The schools closing has had a big impact on my productivity, and I’m sure many of you feel the same. On a normal school day, I would get up at 7:30, have 6 hours of class and return home to study for another few hours. Trying to do the same at home, with distractions such as technology, tv and my family taunting me, is, honestly, impossible. For many subjects, I am attempting to teach myself the rest of the course that we haven’t completed in school, which is also tough.

Although my teachers are doing everything they can to help and support us, nothing can replace the traditional school day that we had previously took for granted. Moreover, us students don’t even know for sure that the Leaving Cert will go ahead in June. All of these factors have been chipping away at my motivation.

I never thought I’d admit this to myself, let alone everyone reading this, but I miss school. I miss having a reason to get up early. I miss listening to music as I walked, seeing the same familiar faces passing me each morning. I miss calling to my friend's house before school, panicking about my unfinished homework or my absent P.E gear. I miss the friendly faces in the hallways.

I even miss maths class! 

Above all, I miss my friends. I would do absolutely anything to have one more lunchtime with them, and to go back to when Covid-19 was unheard of. I know it’s horribly selfish in the grand scheme of things, but I feel that us sixth years are missing out on so much. We most likely won’t get graduation, a yearbook or a chance to say goodbye properly to those who we’ve spent the last six years with. 

Readers, there is a lot of negativity in the world at the moment, and of course this current pandemic is both tragic and frightening. However, if you know me personally, you will be aware that I like to look on the bright side whenever possible. It’s important to remember that this will not last forever. Someday soon, the schools will reopen.

The economy will bounce back. Employment will increase. With this will come a newfound appreciation for life and the freedom we all took for granted before this crisis. As a Leaving Cert student, this year is extremely stressful, but this pandemic has taught me that no matter how stressed I get in the future, I will never take the little things in life for granted ever again. I will forever be grateful for my health and my family as well as education.

Covid-19 undoubtedly has made us, the class of 2020, a group that history won’t forget. One of the most challenging times in our young lives has been made even worse by an international pandemic, and this cannot be undermined by our elders and those who aren’t sitting the Leaving cert this year.

However, if there’s one thing that Leaving Cert Irish has taught me is the phrase ‘ní neart gur cur le chéíle’ and as cliché as it is, it’s true.

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