Plans are being drawn up to ensure both the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate exams will go ahead this year, the Taoiseach has said.

Speaking following a meeting of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Covid-19, Leo Varadkar said Minister for Education Joe McHugh and the State Examinations Commission are drawing up options to allow the State exams to be held.

Mr Varadkar said there are a "number of options" and Minister McHugh is working to ensure that "by hook or by crook" the exams take place.

He said the Government did not want people who are hoping to enter third level education later this year "to lose a year ... or half a year" of their lives.

Mr Varadkar also said they were keen to avoid the "problems that would follow" from there not being an entry year into colleges in 2020.

There are 126,000 students due to sit the State exams in 2020.

Last month, Minister McHugh announced that all Leaving Cert students studying languages would receive marks of 100% in lieu of oral assessments that were due to be held in Irish and modern European languages.

Oral exams were due to begin on 23 March, but have now been cancelled.

The oral assessment is worth 40% of overall marks in Irish, and 25% of overall marks at higher level and 20% at ordinary level in modern European languages.

The deadline for submission of practical and coursework for the Leaving Cert was also extended to 15 May.