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"They're throwing us in like guinea pigs" - Leaving Cert student on Government decision

By James Fenton

January 7, 2021 at 5:52pm

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The Leaving Cert students at Coláiste Bhaile Chláir in Co. Galway have written an open letter to Education Minister Norma Foley regarding yesterday's decision to continue in-class learning for sixth years.

The letter, which written by head boys and head girls at the school and approved by its Board of Management, addresses the fears Leaving Cert students face about having to attend classes three days a week amid Ireland's third wave of the Covid-19 crisis.

Shane Farragher, one of the students who collaborated on the letter, took some time earlier to speak to Lovin.ie and told us that "after hearing the news that we were being made to go back, when Ireland is now an outlier in the pandemic across Europe, we decided to put out a letter confronting the injustice of it all."

Shane explains that "we came together with teachers over a Zoom meeting and we wrote the letter with their full support. When the news came out, my social media feed was crazy, everyone was calling it disgraceful and tagging their local TDs. There's a real sense of indignation, it's not fair at all. They're throwing us in like guinea pigs."

In the letter (which can be read in full below), the students highlight the risk they associate with going to school when they might have vulnerable family members at home who they can pass the virus onto. This is something that Shane has had to deal with personally, having previously tested positive for Covid-19. "My dad has asthma," he says. "As well as the risk of passing it on to him, people think just because we're young we don't feel the effects of Covid. I didn't have it as bad as others but I was still stuck in bed for two days and my breathing is only starting to recover now.

(the letter to Minister Norma Foley written by Leaving Cert students at Coláiste Bhaile Chláir)

Another issue highlighted in the letter is the mental strain faced by students during this stressful period and Shane said that he has had "a number of students tell me that they have increased anxiety, simply due to a lack of care that is shown to us."

With the Government now facing a major backlash on yesterday's decision, Shane says: "We hope they come to their senses. For the most part, students are happy to go with a predicted grades system instead of traditional exams. This is the worst stage of the pandemic in Ireland and they're just throwing us back into classrooms with no regard for our safety."

You get a sense that their are plenty of people around Ireland that agree with Shane and the students of Leaving Cert students of Coláiste Bhaile Chláir.

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