Leaving Certificate students can skip a usually mandatory question on Shakespeare in June, with no requirement on English higher level candidates to answer it.
A Shakespearean drama is usually a must-do for higher level, but this year it is optional to compensate for the loss of face-to-face teaching due to the pandemic.
Former TD, Senator and English teacher Mary O'Rourke told The Hard Shoulder the plan makes sense for already stressed students.
"I'm delighted that the minister and the department have come up with an idea, across all subjects, which will ease the tension of worry I understand for students.
"I used to teach Leaving Cert honours English for a few years - and indeed right now I've two grandchildren.... both doing Leaving Cert.
"It seems a good idea - but then you wonder are they missing out on Shakespeare?
"Shakespeare's stories, the dramas, are wonderful but they do require a lot of explanation to young minds.
"Often at times the language is a little bit, not dated, but a bit different".
'A lot of digging'
She said Shakespeare's characters prepare students for life.
"What they gain is - when it's well gone through in class and plenty of time and plenty of explanation, and ideas from the students themselves - they begin to see behind characters, main protagonists.
"They begin to see character formation, how life has different types of character in it and they begin to appreciate that life is like that.
"They do require a lot of digging into it, bringing out the character of the main people in the drama and the words that accompany them - but it's well worth a study."
But Ms O'Rourke said she hopes the optional element will not be permanent.
"I was thinking about that myself: I said 'When it's relieved this year, will that be the benchmark for again?' - and I would hope not.
"I think Shakespeare is worth the study, and I think it's worth the thinking about, the reflecting about.
"I don't know what other subjects they have sought to ameliorate... I think the Shakespearean one is good, but I wouldn't like to see it permanent".