There is little clarity as to whether third-level students can expect in-person learning this September. HSE chief executive Paul Reid has emphasised that Ireland is at a “key juncture” in the path out of the pandemic; with 77% of the adult population vaccinated, the recent rise in cases still poses a threat to public health.

Professor Tomás Ryan of the Trinity School of Biochemistry and Immunology has expressed concern over the reopening of schools next month. He has called for clearer modelling on how the Delta variant will spread in schools should case numbers continue to rise at their current rate.

In the last two weeks, 18,000 cases have been confirmed, with an incidence rate of 386 per 100,000 of the population – the highest since February. The highest incidence rate of Covid-19 is now among those aged between 16 and 34. According to Ryan, the virus is particularly able to surge in the population of young people.

Despite these concerns over the return to in-person learning for schools, the University of Limerick remains optimistic that their students will return to campus. Between on-site testing for both staff and students and the high uptake of vaccinations among the student population, President Kerstin Mey is hopeful of an on-campus learning experience in UL.

UCD has yet to communicate such a message, meaning a return to campus for UCD students is still to be confirmed.

Rosie Roberts Kuntz – Assistant News Editor