With college returning this week, it is important to know as much as possible about the procedures being implemented in order to limit the spread of Covid-19 among staff and students. Trinity has repeatedly stressed the importance of cooperation on the part of students, saying that “there should be clear plans for communication and encouraging adherence if an outbreak occurs”. In an email sent to all staff and students today, College outlined its “Covid-19 Response Plan”.
If there is a suspected case of Covid-19 in Trinity, the student must not attend College, and will be sent for testing. Trinity recently announced plans to open an on campus testing facility, where staff and students can be tested for free from Monday to Friday. This facility is expected to open on the first day of term. Students are advised not to use public transport when travelling to and from the testing facility.
In the event of a positive result, students must notify their course director, who will then notify the head of their school. The head of the school will then contact the College Health Service and the Estates & Facilities Duty team to ensure that a contact tracing form has been completed.
If the test result is negative, students must continue to self isolate for 48 hours.
Trinity has also outlined protocols for students living in College accommodation. If a student suspects that they have Covid-19, they should stay in their room, avoiding contact with their flat mates. They should then contact the accommodation office on (01) 8961177 and tell them they are self-isolating. Students that are self-isolating are not permitted to enter communal areas within their accommodation.
If a student living in College accommodation receives a positive test, they may stay in their accommodation if they are able to self-isolate “safely and independently”. Irish-domiciled students may return home if they can do so safely. Students who are unable to return home or self-isolate independently may be moved to an “isolation area”, an area of accommodation designated to students who are self-isolating. The College Accommodation Office will contact students with further details if they are to be moved. Students who are self-isolating should phone their doctor immediately if their symptoms worsen.
If a student living in College accomodation discovers that they are a close contact of someone who has received a positive test, they must call the Accommodation Office to notify them that they are restricting their movements. Students that are restricting their movements should only use communal facilities such as kitchens when there is no one else there, and they must wear a mask. Students should only travel to the shops when it is absolutely necessary, and can call the Accommodation Office to avail of a meal service for the period of their restricted movement, at a cost of €350. Students who are close contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted by public health authorities and a test will be arranged. They will also be given an appointment for a second test 7 days later if the first test is negative. Even if both tests are negative, students who have been identified as close contacts will still have to restrict their movements for 10 days.
In their guidelines for students living in college accommodation, Trinity stressed the importance of vigilance among students, and said that they should “encourage and support each other to self-isolate and seek medical advice if there is any question of infection”. The guidelines also assured students that they would be “fully resourced” with regards to academic extensions and support should they need to self-isolate. The guidelines describe any failure to disclose symptoms to the relevant bodies as a “breach of community trust”. Students were warned that “any breach of the self-isolation protocol will be investigated by the Junior Dean and may result in the revocation of a student’s license to reside in College”.