8 May, 2020
The closure of all schools on 12 March 2020 was one of the exceptional measures taken by the Government, the Department of Education and Skills and the State Examinations Commission in line with advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), in order to slow down the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Ireland.
Over the last 8 weeks, schools throughout the country have undergone a seismic change in their teaching and learning provision. This has made significant demands on students, teachers and their families. Most have had to struggle with IT provision and hardware, WFH, caring for children and loved ones, and in so many cases living with the threat of financial insecurity. These are not easy challenges.
Crescent has been no different. All stakeholders, board, parents, teachers try to keep the show on the road, in meaningful and effective ways, continuing with support from Year Heads, guidance counsellors, morning prayer, to name a few. I have written here previously of all we miss about being away from school, and our Central Area, where we can congregate and our magnificent grounds. However, we will return to share these experiences again.
The students most affected of course have been our 6th years. Leaving Certificate examinations are a ‘rite of passage’ for Irish students; and being as they are ‘high stake’ terminal exams, they are not only dreaded in advance but the subject of nightmares for years afterwards. Well if there’s some consolation to be had by today’s announcement, at least the class of 2020 won’t have these particular nightmares to worry them in the future. But my God they have been put through the wringer in so many other ways over the last 8 weeks, they have been well and truly ‘tested’ and I hope they can now breathe a sigh of relief.
In coming to the decision to move ‘calculated grades’ the Department was advised by different groups. I quote here from the document prepared by the National Educational Psychological Service NEPS:
‘The alternative calculated grades option, with its rationale of
fairness, inclusivity, reliability and validity, is the option that, in the current circumstances,
better promotes for most, a sense of efficacy, resilience and wellbeing.’
Arrangements are now in place and guidance has been provided to schools as to how this process will work, and the part the school will play. I can assure you that Crescent will approach this very important work in the most professional manner, and that students and parents should not now worry about the next steps. Trust and respect have always been cornerstones of our relationship with students and their parents.
I have sent an email earlier today to the 6th years and their parents, and we hope to have a virtual ‘assembly’ for 6th years on Monday next, and we will of course remain in touch.
For now, it is my sincere hope that today’s announcement does indeed bring you some relief; and that our Crescent family continues to find strength in working together, with and with our alumni, our sister colleges, the global Jesuit network to which we belong and for whom we pray, and of course our fellow citizens, as we live through this pandemic.