Students and staff living in on-campus accommodation around the country are to be permitted to remain in their current housing but with no visitors allowed under guidelines for higher education following the announcement of new Level 5 restrictions last night.
In a statement, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris has advised that higher education institutions should “continue to deliver the vast majority of classes online”.
Students in accommodation are being asked to adhere to the other guidelines in line with Level 5, such as not visiting other households and exercising within 5 kilometers of their accommodation.
The Level 5 measures announced last night “designate higher and further education as essential,” but only with regards to education activities that “cannot be held remotely”.
Harris said that colleges themselves “are best placed to determine where onsite presence is required,” however they have provided a list of essential activities where onsite presence may be required.
This list includes teaching and research laboratories, engagement” with students whose particular needs require additional support” and “experiential learning related to essential service”, such as clinical placements.
Harris said that scheduled access to libraries and “other onsite study spaces” can be deemed essential for “students who do not otherwise have suitable facilities or home environment to access learning remotely”.
Under these guidelines, provision of “necessary onsite support to meet the mental health and welfare needs of students” can also continue.
Harris acknowledged that this is a “very difficult time for students and those working in further education”.
He stated that the guidelines for higher education will be reviewed “in the light of experience and the progress of the disease”.
The Department of Higher Education plans to “communicate the position for next semester before the end of the year.”
In an email to students this evening, Provost Patrick Prendergast stated College intends to continue with essential in-person teaching and to keep student breakout spaces on campus open.
Research is to continue, as is experiential learning such as clinical placements.
Both campus accommodation and Trinity Hall (Halls) are to remain open under Level 5. However, should students wish to leave their accommodation, College will examine this on a “case by case basis.”
There is to be further communication from the Librarian with regards to library services under the new guidelines tomorrow.
When the new Level 5 restrictions were announced in last night’s press conference, higher education was left unmentioned.
Speaking on Claire Byrne Live last night, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that it is “imperative” that colleges remain open along with schools, but gave no further details.