On February 22nd, University College Dublin (UCD) President, Andrew Deeks issued a Bulletin following the announcement of the Level 5 Lockdown extension. Deeks outlined the importance of limiting campus activities to those “that can only be carried out on campus and are both essential and time critical.” Most activities will be delivered in the same format but, in the interest of “student progression”, some in-person labs and clinical practices are deemed eligible to commence from the 22nd of March. 

The College Tribune asked some Heads of Schools what their plans were going forward. 

The School of Mathematics and Statistics does not see any changes happening before the end of the semester, with online computer labs sufficing as per student feedback surveys. The same applies to the School of Computer Science; the school recognises that, while it would be more ideal to be in-person, it is not necessary.

The School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science plans to continue as they have, with “essential on-campus labs for students in [their] clinical programmes, deemed time critical for student progression, since the start of the level 5 restrictions.” Similarly, clinical placements have been running all through the restrictions, with students on practice education placements across a range of health services.  

Professor Doyle of the School of Biology and Environmental Science plans to stick to the delivery methods planned at the start of the year and “run some in-person labs for Stage 1 or 2 modules that are primarily lab-based.” She acknowledges that staff hope to return to face-to-face teaching as soon as it is safe to do so.

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Other schools are aware of the need to meet learning objectives for specific cohorts of students. Professor Grunewald, Head of the School of Physics, says they are currently looking into inviting small groups of stage 3 students and people in stage 4 completing research projects from March 22nd. Professor Grunewald concluded that, while the offer is there, in person learning is not needed for student progression.

Practical classes are also being offered in the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Sciences for Stage 3 and MSc students. This is done when it “is essential to meet the teaching objectives, while others, where possible, are delivered online”, says Head of School Wim Meijer.

Head of the School of Medicine, Professor Michael Doyle, says that all clinical placements are core across all programmes in the School of Medicine and will continue as before throughout Level 5 restrictions. “In general, these are hands-on practical clinical skills sessions which cannot be delivered online and have all taken place with appropriate infection prevention and control measures. As the clinical placements and the development of these hands-on practical skills are core to many of our programmes, these will continue, where essential, post March 22nd.”

Medb McBrearty – Reporter