University College Dublin’s (UCD) Medical and Public Health Subgroup recommendations to remove UCD’s mask mandate have been accepted by the University Management Team, as revealed via UCD President Andrew Deeks’ Special Bulletin this afternoon. Some other recommendations to be followed include the continuation of providing free antigen tests to UCD students, the ventilation strategy of semester 1 to stay in place as well as physical COVID-19 measures such as the use of screens and hand-sanitising stations.
These recommendations come after the government announced its intention to relax COVID-19 restrictions from the 28th of February. Despite the mandate for masks being removed, Deeks outlined that “all persons should be strongly encouraged to continue to wear masks”. However, there is “no scope for local enforcement” outside of the above recommendation.
The bulletin states that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be provided by the university to staff and students in relevant settings. Furthermore, the University will continue the effort to “to record case numbers in the UCD community and to monitor for trends and outbreaks” for the “targetted management of outbreaks in both teaching and workplace settings”. The current 45 minute class period and lecture capture is to remain in place. Longer classes will no longer need to provide longer breaks.
These new measures follow the “national approach” stated Deeks, as has been done “throughout the pandemic” in an effort to reassure the “increased concern amongst some colleagues”.
The bulletin thanked staff for the compliance shown with “control measures throughout the pandemic”. Deeks encouraged “mask wearing in crowded settings, particularly indoors, and to adopt good hygiene measures”. He also warned that “there is a greater chance than ever that you will catch it” while testifying “from personal experience that it is still something that is better avoided”.
Mahnoor Choudhry – Co-Editor