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COVID-19 threatening our dreams & ambitions – Leaving Cert students adapt

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Coronavirus is putting a strain on the mental health of Leaving Certificate students, creating a further divide between them but one Ennis student is confident they can prosper.

Oluwaseyi Olanrewaju has shared his story with The Clare Echo on how COVID-19 is impacting on his preparations for the State Examinations. He has lived in Ennis for the last five years and is hoping to study science in NUIG.

My name is Oluwaseyi, I’m currently a Leaving Cert student that attends Ennis Community College and during this pandemic my work ethic has been greatly affected.

These are troubling times that we are facing. There have been a lot of changes to which no one understands how to deal with, new obstacles are being faced by all members of society and there seems to be a sudden disconnect all around the world. We are all facing our own individual problems but I believe that an important group of people that seem to be suffering significantly are the current Leaving Certificate students. We have been described as the future of this country yet the uncertainty regarding our future does not reflect this.

The current events that are happening are playing a major role in deciding everyone’s moods and thought processes. Sadness and grief is all that is being talked about recently and the general atmosphere seems to be bleak. Think of the repercussions that this is having on the mental health of students who are being expected to ignore such things and focus on an exam that may not even be taking place. On top of this our physical health is also something we are expected to look after. The responsibilities seem to be endless and the strain almost unbearable. It feels like we’ve all been marooned on our own little tiny islands, remote from one another. I understand that we have technology, but that will never be able to replace real human interaction.

I also believe that the stress caused by exams has been amplified, it is adding to the stress at home. Being in such close proximity to family for such prolonged periods of time is bound to cause friction and not having a quiet workspace can really affect a student’s capacity to learn. This then creates fear that their overall grades will suffer causing a cycle that can leave a student overwhelmed and fearful. As well as this, the work that is being distributed to the students through online resources is not always fully understood and the interaction between student and teacher feels less beneficial than it should be. There are also students who do not have the same resources as their fellow students. There are those who do not have access to resources that are vital in these difficult times, such as the internet, laptops or even phones. Are we expecting them to fend for themselves in such a difficult situation, I certainly hope not.

Some students are asking that the Leaving Cert be cancelled and that expected grades should be used. I believe that as with every contingency plan there are both positives and negatives to this. I’ve noticed a further divide between the students in Leaving Cert, there are those who excel at independent learning and are most likely to be in support of the exams being deferred but there are also those who require physical interaction in order to benefit. I’m hoping that the Government can come to a conclusion that sees both sides satisfied with the result but I know that this is asking a lot. It is an impossible task to satisfy everyone but I hope it satisfies the majority.

To all of my fellow Leaving Certs who have been stripped of a beneficial routine and to those who have been affected by the lack of transparency in our government, I say to you that you are not alone.

We are all amid a crisis that is threatening our dreams and ambitions. The dreams and ambitions that we have been working so hard to achieve. I believe in the resolve of the human race to deal with difficult situations like this and together I know that we can prosper. We have faced countless challenges before, such as the outbreaks of Spanish Flu and TB. I know that we will get there in the end by doing our part. Implementing social distancing, washing our hands with soap and only going out whenever absolutely necessary. No matter how hard it gets, always remember that you are not alone.

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