Following the announcement of a nationwide Level 5 lockdown being put in place from midnight on Wednesday 21st of October, University College Dublin (UCD) has responded by strengthening its existing COVID-19 policies that are currently in place.
The Minister for Education Simon Harris has also released a statement, which urges that all lecturers should be holding as many classes at a distance as possible. Institutions and providers are best placed to determine what is and isn’t possible, and so they have been given discretion in the following situations:
- teaching and research in laboratories, practical and skills-based tuition, workshops (including training of apprentices)
- engagement, including small group learning, with learners whose particular needs require additional support over and above that which can be provided online
- scheduled access to libraries and other onsite study space for those students who do not otherwise have suitable facilities or home environment to access learning remotely
- small group activity to mitigate disadvantage in literacy, numeracy and basic skills provision including the National Youthreach Programme and community and adult education and literacy programmes
- skills and experiential learning for disciplines related to essential services such as clinical placements and regulated safety training in the construction sector
- on-campus research activities which cannot be undertaken remotely
- provision of necessary onsite support to meet the mental health and welfare needs of students
In a statement from the President’s bulletin, UCD’s strengthened response includes more stringent face covering requirements. Face coverings are now required across all teaching and learning events, in all the libraries and internal public spaces of the campus for all members of the University community and visitors to UCD. There are few exceptions:
- When actively eating and drinking in designated seating or social areas
- When seated in one’s own office
- By staff when teaching in class if 2m distancing can be maintained from students
- When actively using a gym or the swimming pool or actively playing sport
- When an underlying medical condition prevents their wearing.
Notably, UCD will keep their Library and study spaces open to students. However, the government guidelines and UCD have not confirmed whether travel to the campus for the purpose of study is deemed ‘essential’.
Students in on-campus accommodation are urged to stay indoors, not visit other households, and to only travel within 5km of their accommodation for exercise. Student accommodation will remain open for students and staff who make use of it. Public transport is only to be used when necessary for those who must attend campus, however, walking and cycling are encouraged.
Adam Conway, Reporter