As the capital is set to move to Level 3 of lockdown, University College Dublin is preparing for the drastic effects the new regulations will have on the first few weeks of the Autumn Term. The Registrar has announced that UCD will be operating under Level 4 restrictions with regard to teaching.

While Dublin is already subject to more restrictions than the rest of the country, the escalation to Level 3 of the Government’s five-level plan for ‘Living with COVID-19’ will be the most significant increase in restrictions since lockdown began to subside in late June. 

While Level 3 in the government guidelines does allow certain exceptions to educational institutions, it is understood that the government is encouraging universities to move classes online wherever possible. It is also unlikely that other aspects of campus life, such as society and sporting events, will be allowed to continue under the exceptions. While Level 2 allowed some of these to go ahead with limited capacities, under the Level 3 guidelines, indoor events and social events of all kinds are prohibited. The same goes for all sports matches and events (save for elite levels). 

The IUA has announced that universities based in Dublin have agreed to suspend all society or club activities for the coming weeks as part of “enhanced measures” to deal with the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Dublin.

Orientation Week, which was due to go ahead with a blended but primarily online approach, will now be moving entirely online. Peer Mentors have been planning on showing students around campus as part of a socially-distanced introductory tour, this will no longer be able to go ahead, as campuses are likely to only be open for essential business. 

It is now also unlikely that “Freshers Week”, a series of events focused on the extracurricular aspects of college life, will be able to go ahead. Full plans for the week were due to be announced soon, and a final decision will be made later today. 

The status of students living in Dublin off-campus, most especially those staying with another household (commonly known as ”digs”), is currently unclear. While travel in and out of the county is permitted for educational purposes, it is unknown whether this provides an exception to the restrictions on out-of-household visitors.

Jack McGee – Reporter