The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has released a statement urging immediate action to protect student renters ahead of anticipated restrictions in Dublin.
The statement arrives as the likelihood of Dublin entering Level 3 of the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap increases, as well as the predicted National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommendation for Dublin colleges to move to almost entirely online teaching.
The USI statement said that many students made decisions on accomodation during the summer while there was “no clarity on what the new academic year would look like”.
The “Framework for Restrictive Measures in Response to Covid-19” released earlier this week came under criticism by the USI for the lack of clarity in restrictions on third level activity, with “enhanced protective measures” being cited but not explained. Fitzpatrick pointed out the harmful ambiguity, saying “we have no idea what those measures are going to be or look like which is very unfair for the students who are due to be going or returning to these colleges over the coming days”.
The union said that students in Dublin may be left in positions similar to last March, when many students lost hundreds or thousands of euros on pre-booked accommodation that they either no longer needed or were no longer able to use.
USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick said that it is “not good enough to require students to enter standard agreements – this is not a standard year”.
The 14 day incidence of Covid-19 in Dublin currently at 104 per 100,000 people, significantly higher than the rest of Ireland. Cabinet is expected to make a decision today regarding the new restrictions, which would limit all travel within the county and almost entirely restrict indoor events.
In an email to students yesterday, Provost Patrick Prendergast stated that further measures aiming to “limit congregation” were currently being considered. Although level 3 does not seem to explicitly entail changing the college’s current plan of operation, students can expect another emailed update from the college following the announcement of Dublin entering level 3.
USI also emphasised the importance of keeping “vital on-campus services” accessible during trying times, especially mental health services.
Fitzpatrick added that “students feeling isolated is a real concern for us” and to keep reaching out to friends and help lines if necessary.
Finally, she emphasised the fact that “all of us in Dublin, and across the island need to reduce our movements to try reduce the spread of this virus to protect ourselves, our families, our friends and our society”.