All of the State’s third-level institutions will be placed at Level 3 of the Covid-19 alert framework from midnight tonight, according to the Irish Times.
They are reporting this evening that the Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris has said all universities and Institutes of Technology will be placed in a restricted scenario for up to three weeks.
Earlier today, the Irish Universities Association (IUA) has announced that all Higher Education Institutions (HEI) will move to enhanced public health protection measures which were applied in Dublin-based HEIs last week.
They said the measures come at the request of the government on the back of rising numbers of Covid-19 cases across the country..
In a statement released this evening, the IUA said:
“While the safety of staff and students has always been a priority of the new academic year, the focus of the next 2-3 weeks is on limiting the cross country movement of students and avoiding congregation of large groups on campus.”
They said arising from the request from government, all IUA universities will make further provisions as follows:
- Universities will use discretion when deciding between onsite and remote learning and should favour remote delivery if feasible during this period.
- On-campus provision will be minimised with priority given to teaching and learning that can only take place on-site.
- This will include small group teaching and research in laboratories, practical tuition and workshops.
- It will also include limited planned on-site attendance for other priority student cohorts.
- University libraries will remain open with strict social distancing protocols and entry registration.
- All research activities will continue as normal.
- Social & club activities on-campus will be suspended until further notice.
- Universities will also enhance any protection measures such as more extensive wearing of face masks in certain settings.
The IUA said as well as these measure, the universities will ensure that all necessary health protection measures are in place and that there will be clear communication to students and staff in this regard.
They said this is underpinned by national guidance for the further and higher education sectors and by more “detailed implementation guidelines developed by public health experts.”
They added; “Individual universities will communicate revised plans to students and staff. It is anticipated that these additional measures will be reviewed after an initial period in view of evolving public health advice.”
Meanwhile the Minister for Education Simon Harris echoed the IUAs sentiments today, saying classes should not go ahead in person unless absolutely necessary:
“I am conscious that people are looking for certainty and I wish I could give it to them. What I can tell them is this, the colleges are not closing, far from it.
“We are asking people to use common sense here, if you can provide a lecture online that saves everybody having to trek to another part of the country, please do it.”