Following months of uncertainty over the fate of the leaving certificate, this week brought the news that the exams will be postponed, and that students will receive calculated grades instead.
The merits of this decision have been debated widely, but everyone seems to agree that clarity for students was the most important thing, and we’ve got that now. Students and their families can now start planning their next steps for progressing to third-level.
And, while there are still many questions surrounding the implications of calculated grades, we’re now, finally, in a situation where colleges can start putting in place concrete plans for when and how they’ll re-open – and communicating those with students.
Trinity hasn’t yet indicated when prospective students can expect to commence their studies – in contrast to other universities, which have already announced provisional start dates for incoming freshers. On accommodation, the situation is murkier still: it’s hard to imagine how Halls can open in anything approaching normal fashion, with 1,000 students from all over the world packed into a relatively small residential complex.
A degree of uncertainty is understandable, and to be expected from Trinity – we are living through an unprecedented crisis, after all, and students will be starting in colleges that look quite different to what came before.
But now more than ever, students – present and future – need certainty, and clear information that will allow them to start planning their next steps. This means College needs to commit to delivering important information in a clear and timely manner – and not, for instance, drop a bombshell about online teaching in the middle of a mostly platitudinous video.
Students and staff must be made aware of all the developments coming down the tracks – and they need to hear about them as soon as is reasonably possible. The College must develop a roadmap detailing how and when students can expect to return to campus, and it must communicate this information effectively.
If these plans change in accordance with public health advice in the meantime, so be it, but for students, there’s too much at stake here to forgive a lax communications strategy.