The Department of Education has announced contingency measures for the Leaving Certificate exams, due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Many of you (46,000) have spoken out about your concerns and preferred options through ISSU Irish Second-Level Students’ Union #ClarificationNow survey. ISSU has represented students views in meetings with the Department of Education as part of the Department’s consultation meetings. As with all decisions, some of you will feel this decision is the best option and others will feel it is the worst. Either way, we at least know what is ahead of us. UNICEF asked guidance counsellor Jenny Crampton to offer her advice to all of you.
Advice on how to cope with Leaving Certificate contingency measures
The measures that have been put in place to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic over the past weeks are creating new challenges for us all. We are facing different stressors and different pressures as we do our best to adjust to these new measures. You have now been thrown an extra challenge, trying to continue working towards the exam that will now take place in late summer.
Many of you will be feeling very angry, upset and frustrated at hearing this news. These are normal reactions and very understandable ones. Some of you may be wondering why they made this decision, others may be asking themselves “how can I keep this up until July or August”. My advice to you is to take some time out now over the holidays and allow yourself to process these emotions of anger, frustration etc and then take some time to do things that you enjoy, within the present restrictions.
You need to mind your mental health during this time and keep a realistic perspective on what you can or cannot do. There are a lot of websites offering support and advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing.
There are many free online services that offer audiobooks, meditation apps, music lessons, yoga classes, national theatres, live stream gigs, and lots more. Here is a helpful collection GiveBack Directory.
Remember only to use reliable and trustworthy news sources. If you want information and updates on education and the Leaving Certificate use the Department of Education and Skills website.
The full details on logistics or what academic supports are going to be put in place for you will become clearer over the coming months. We will respond to those updates and your concerns when more is known.
Remember that you are all in this together, all 60,000 doing the Leaving Certificate exams. Most of you will be having the same concerns and upsets. You have a lot of support, your teachers, guidance counsellors, school management team, family and friends. Ask for support if you need it.
And finally, stay connected and keep in touch with one another.
- It is normal to feel overwhelmed, helpless, angry, or frustrated.
- Understand that you are not alone, there are over 60,000 students in this with you.
- Talk about how you’re feeling, it can help defuse the intensity and process your emotions, find a friend or family member that is a good listener.
- Seek the support of professionals if you need more help.
- Know that even though this is very upsetting, this will pass and you are resilient and you will get through it.
- Find out ways to reduce your stress and anxiety, and do these things regularly.
- Do things that you know you enjoy, even if you don’t feel like it. It will divert your attention.
- Focus on what is in your control instead of worrying about the future.
- Take care of your body, exercise releases stress and boosts feel-good endorphins, healthy food helps regulate your mood and energy and sleep resets your mind and body.
- Take a break and regroup, everyone deserves a holiday or time off from work, you do too!
Helpful reminders for parents…
- Be aware of your own stress levels and find the right time to offer support.
- Listen without judging or giving advice, sometimes it is not a solution that is needed but just understanding.
- Help find ways to relieve their anger and stress and lift their mood.
- Give them space to retreat and feel their emotions.
- When holidays are over, help them create a structure to the day, through mealtimes and time together.
- Encourage regular breaks, exercise, healthy eating and sleep routines.