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Know your rights: What are the rules about face coverings?

Wearing a face covering – not a face mask – is recommended for situations where social distancing is difficult, for example, in public indoor areas or on busy public transport.

A face covering is not a medical mask, which should be reserved for healthcare professionals. It is material (usually cotton or linen) that you wear across your nose and mouth using elastic or string. You can buy a face covering or make a face covering.

It is not compulsory to wear a face covering in Ireland and they are not suitable for some people, including for children under 13.

How do I use a face covering?

You should always wash your hands before putting on your face covering. Avoid touching it while you are wearing it (and if you accidently touch the front, wash your hands straight away).

Make sure that the material fully covers your nose and mouth. You should check that it is tied securely and fits snugly against the side of your face.

Keep your spare face coverings in a clean, waterproof bag (such as a ziplock bag). You should carry a similar bag for used face coverings. Label these bags clearly so that you do not mix them up.

If you are a smoker, do not lift up your face covering to smoke. Instead, remove it completely and place it in your ‘used’ ziplock bag.

When you are removing your face covering, do so using the strings at the back. Do not touch the front.

If your face covering is disposable, throw it in a bin immediately after use. If it is re-usable, you should wash it in hot water (60 degrees or hotter) with detergent.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizens Information Centres are offering a phone and email service. You can access information and advice from:

Know your rights: How exactly will grades be calculated for Leaving Certificate 2020?

In 2020, you can opt to have your grades based on a new calculated grades system. A calculated grade is based on an estimated mark that you would get in a subject in the Leaving Certificate examination in normal circumstances.

You will be awarded a State Certificate of Calculated Grades for each subject in the Leaving Certificate.  This has the same status as the Leaving Certificates in previous years. You can still opt to sit the conventional written Leaving Certificate exam at a later date when it’s possible.

There are 4 key steps to working out a calculated grade:

Step 1: Your teacher will estimate the mark you would likely have got in the Leaving Certificate subject under normal conditions. They will use a range of records and evidence such as your classwork, homework, class assessments, Christmas and summer exams, mock exams and coursework.

Your teacher will also estimate your expected mark in the oral and practical performance tests.  Previously, the Department of Education had awarded all students full marks for this option but this no longer applies.

You will be given a single overall estimated percentage mark in the subject. Your teacher will then estimate where you rank in relation to other students in your class.

Step 2: All the subject teachers in your school will then review the marks and rank all the school’s students for that subject. Your teacher will finalise your estimated percentage marks and ranking. The deputy principal will review the ranking with your teacher if they are the only teacher of the subject.

Step 3: Your school principal will review the marks and rankings and check that the process has been fair before sending the final estimated marks and class rankings to the Department.

Step 4: The Department will apply a standardisation process. This takes the estimated marks from each school and adjusts them to bring them into the rankings for the expected grades for that school based on the historical information held by the State Examinations Commission.

Your estimated marks for your subject will then be converted into your final calculated grade.

You can appeal your results. This will check that the correct information has been used and the process has been fair. It cannot review the percentage mark from your teacher. You will still have the option to sit the written exam. If you get a higher grade in the exam than your calculated grade, your results for the subject will be amended.

You cannot discuss the estimated marks with your teacher or any school staff.

Read more in our document about calculated grades and the Department of Education’s FAQs.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizens Information Centres are offering a phone and email service. You can access information and advice from:

What’s changing from 18 May?

From 18 May 2020, Ireland will start to reopen in Phase 1 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.

The message is still is to Stay at Home except for five exceptions:

  1. To go to work if your workplace is open and you can’t work from home. Most people will continue to work from home.
  2. To shop for items you need, including garden plants and hardware
  3. To exercise within 5 km of your home
  4. For medical reasons or to care for others
  5. To meet friends or family outdoors, in groups of no more than 4

Older people and people who are cocooning should continue to stay at home, except for brief outdoor exercise within 5km of their home.

Face coverings  
During the gradual easing of restrictions in Phase 1, you are advised to use a face covering (this is not a medical mask) as an additional hygiene measure, when you are using busy public transport or when in enclosed indoor public areas like shops.


Keep washing your hands…
As people begin to go out more, hygiene measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 are even more important:

  1. Wash your hands regularly
  2. Stay 2 metres apart from others where possible
  3. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue
  4. Stay at home and self-isolate if you are sick.

Who can work?
Construction workers, gardeners and other outdoor workers can return to work. This includes people working in allotments. Most people will continue to work remotely if they can.

What shops can open? 

  • Hardware stores, builders merchants and shops providing essential supplies and tools for gardening, farming and agriculture
  • Garden centres and farmers markets
  • Opticians/Optometrists/Outlets providing hearing test services and selling hearing aids and appliances
  • Retailers involved in the sale, supply and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles and related facilities (such as tyre sales and repairs); office products and services
  • Electrical, IT and phone sales, repair and maintenance services for home. This does not include homeware stores.

You are still encouraged to only make essential trips to these shops and retail outlets.

What amenities and sports facilities can open?

  • Outdoor public amenities and tourism sites, such as carparks, beaches and mountain walks may reopen
  • Outdoor public sports amenities, like playing pitches, tennis courts and golf courses may reopen
  • Outdoor sports and fitness activities in groups of no more than 4 are permitted within 5km of your home provided that there is no physical contact
  • School and college buildings may reopen for teachers and lecturers to facilitate remote learning

Supports for Deaf people during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people who are Deaf can find information on their rights and entitlements in the following ways:

The Irish Deaf Society have also produced a series of ISL videos on COVID-19 and the supports available at irishdeafsociety.ie/coronavirus-isl-support/.  They can be contacted by email at advocacy@irishdeafsociety.ie or by text at 086 440 1443.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for regular updates.

Postponement of the Leaving Certificate

The Leaving Certificate written and practical exams have been postponed. Students have been given the option of accepting calculated grades or sitting their written exams at a later date when it is safe to do so.

Calculated grades will be based on an estimated score provided by class teachers and principals, and information held by the State Examinations Commission.

The Department of Education has stated that calculated grades will be generated using a systematic statistical model. This model will use estimates of a student’s expected performance combined with the school’s statistical profiles of achievement in a subject and level, in line with national performance standards over time. This will involve a comparison of the school’s profile of achievement at Leaving Certificate over the past three years.

The first source of data (on a student’s expected performance) will come from the subject teacher. It will then be aligned in the school, with teachers consulting on the results before the principal reviews the process. The school then sends the data to the Department of Education and Skills for the second part of the process.

A Guide to Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate students 2020 (pdf) explains how the system will work in more detail.

There will be no exam fee for 2020. All exams fees that have already been paid will be refunded.

If you are a student with special educational needs, your teacher will base their estimate of your  performance on the assumption that reasonable accommodation would have been available.

Provisional results may be issued in early September, but this date has still to be confirmed. Results will then be sent to the CAO system.

Students will be able to appeal their result. Students who are still unhappy with the calculated grades awarded will also have the option to sit a written Leaving Certificate exam in the subject(s) when this becomes possible.

The admissions process for higher education, managed by the Central Applications Office (CAO), will operate as closely as possible to the usual timeframe for offers.

You can read more about the new Leaving Certificate arrangements on gov.ie.

Know your rights: Returning to work

I’m wondering when I can return to work? Where can I get information about the rules that will apply?

The Government has set out a Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business (pdf) to ease COVID-19 restrictions in a phased manner from 18 May 2020.

The plan sets out five stages for unlocking restrictions, at 3-week intervals. These dates may change depending on public health advice.

During phase 1 (18 May 2020) you may return to your workplace if you work mainly outdoors. This may include construction workers, gardener and some retail jobs where the shop floor is outdoors (for example, garden centres).

During phase 2 (8 June 2020) you may be able to return to your workplace if you work more at least 2 metres from other workers, or mainly work alone and you cannot work remotely.

In phase 3 (29 June 2020) some businesses may reopen where remote work is not possible, provided they can maintain social distancing including:

  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Non-essential shops
  • Organisations with low levels of interaction between employees

From phase 4 (20 July 2020) workplaces where remote working is not possible may be able to reopen where social distancing can be maintained. This could involve introducing shift work or staggered opening hours to keep staff apart. These restrictions will be gradually lifted so that workplaces where contact is unavoidable (for example hairdressers) may be able to reopen.

From phase 5 (10 August 2020) all sectors may gradually return to work. This may be staggered and restrictions will be lifted bit by bit.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizens Information Centres are offering a phone and email service. You can access information and advice from:

Know your rights: Teaching and learning at home

I am trying to teach my 6-year-old at home during the COVID-19 public health emergency. What resources are available to support parents?

First of all, make sure you keep in touch with your child’s school and teacher. Your role is to support your child’s schoolwork, your school should give you help and guidance and your child’s class teacher should keep in contact with the children in the class and assign them work to do. Your child’s teacher should also give feedback on schoolwork to ensure that students stay motivated and focused while working at home.

The Department of Education and Skills has useful tips for parents:  

  • Remember to take breaks. Break up the schoolwork with physical and social activities.
  • Don’t insist on sticking to a full schoolwork timetable. You need to be flexible and sensible.  What’s important is that your child makes a good effort each day to complete some schoolwork.
  • Mix it up. Learning isn’t just about sitting with a pen and paper at a desk. Your child can learn from baking, gardening or other family activities.
  • Keep regular mealtimes. Take up physical activity and go outdoors if you can.

You may find these learning resources helpful:

  • RTE Home School Hub broadcasts on RTE 2 from 11am to 12 noon for primary school children from first to sixth class. You can watch it back anytime on the RTE Player and you can also download activity sheets.
  • The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has resources for parents  including tips for primary age children, resources for autism, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy. It also has ideas for play, literacy, attention and listening for primary school classes.
  • You can get advice and resources on how to stay well when schools are closed from the  National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)
  • Scoilnet has free resources for primary and post primary students. 
  • The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has learning resources including for the Irish language and helping your child learn.

Don’t forget to look after yourself:

  • You can find information about Parenting during COVID-19 on gov.ie
  • Parentline helpline is open Monday to Thursday 10am-9pm and Fridays 10am-4pm on 1890 927 277. See parentline.ie.
  • Barnardos National Parent Supportline is open Monday to Friday 10am – 2pm on 1800 910 123.  You can talk directly to qualified staff who can offer practical support and guidance in your role as parents during the COVID-19 emergency. See barnardos.ie

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizens Information Centres are offering a phone and email service. You can access information and advice from:

Public health measures: what has changed?

Public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 were introduced on 27 March 2020. On 1 May, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD announced that the measures will continue until 18 May 2020. From Tuesday 5 May, there will be 2 changes:

  • People will be able to go up to 5 kilometres from their home to exercise
  • People who are cocooning can leave their homes for exercise or a drive as long as they avoid all contact with other people

Cocooning initially involved staying at home in all circumstances. You can read more about the measures on gov.ie.

Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business

The Government has also set out a Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business (pdf) to ease COVID-19 restrictions in a phased manner from 18 May 2020.

The plan sets out five stages for unlocking restrictions, at 3-week intervals.

From 18 May, changes set out in the Phase 1 of the roadmap include:

  • Allow outdoor meetings between people from different households
  • Open up childcare for healthcare workers
  • Phased return of outdoor workers
  • Open retailers which are primarily outdoor or those which were open during first level of restriction (such as opticians)
  • Opening of certain outdoor public amenities

As restrictions are eased, the rate of the virus in the community will be constantly monitored by the National Public Health Emergency Team and the Government.

Know your rights: Renewing a driving licence during COVID-19

My driving licence is due to expire in May but I don’t know how to renew it during the COVID-19 pandemic. What should I do?

If you are due to renew your driving licence during the COVID-19 emergency period, you may have questions about how (and where) to do this. Here’s what you need to know.

Firstly, you must carry your driving licence with you at all times when driving. If a Garda asks you to produce your driving licence for inspection and you do not have it with you, you must bring it to a Garda station for inspection within 10 days. If you refuse to give the Garda your name and address, the Garda has the power to arrest you and you could be fined up to €2,000.

Usually when your driving licence expires, you must renew it at the National Driving Licence Service (NDLS), or online if you have a Public Services Card and a MyGovID verified account. However, the NDLS is closed until further notice as part of Government measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For this reason, any driving licences (and learner permits) that are due to expire before 30 June 2020 will be valid for a further 4 months. This means that if your document expired or is due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you can add 4 months onto its expiration date.

The following documents will also be valid for a further 4 months:

  • Certificates of competency received on passing a driving test
  • Driver theory test certificates
  • Motorcycle initial basic training certificates

Remember, during COVID-19, you should restrict your movements by staying at home. At present, the only reasons to drive away from home are to:

  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service – see the list of essential service providers
  • Shop for food or essential household goods
  • Collect medical supplies or go to medical appointments
  • Take care of essential family needs, such as caring for children, older people or other vulnerable people

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizens Information Centres are offering a phone and email service. You can access information and advice from: