No mention of higher education in Taoiseach’s restrictions announcement

Primary and secondary level education will stay open in deviation from prior Level 5 restriction outlines

In an expected move tonight, the government has decided to implement Level 5 restrictions on the country for six weeks, starting Wednesday night. 

Implications for the higher education sector were not mentioned by the Taoiseach during his address to the country this evening announcing Cabinet’s decision on the imposition of heightened Covid-19 restrictions.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris followed the address with an Instagram livestream, and when asked to comment on the implication of Level 5 restrictions on higher education, he did not immediately respond. 

Additionally, on the government webpage under the subheading “Schools, creches and higher and adult education”, outlines for “early learning and childcare services” were restated, but no details on higher education were disclosed.

The announcement to move to Level 5 comes after the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommended the move for the whole country on Friday evening, to try and slow the spread of Covid-19. 

However, in a break from previous outlines for Level 5, schools and creches are set to remain open, and “elite level sport” practices will continue. Additionally, up to two households at once may meet outside. 

After initially rejecting NPHET’s recommendation two weeks ago to move to Level 5, Taoiseach Micheál Martin admitted in a statement on Monday that the past adherence to Level 3 has “not been enough…and further action is now required”. 

He emphasised the introduction of “enhanced financial supports” and “new supports in mental health services” for both individuals and businesses. 

“Support bubbles” are to be introduced for one person households, which allow the merging of two households, by which each household depends on one another in a support network on compassionate grounds. 

As schools are set to remain open, Martin acknowledged the continual work of teachers, parents, school administrators, and principals of schools throughout the “developing” situation. 

Finally, he explained that although the government is wary of the toll these new restrictions will take on the mental health of many individuals, “even as the winter comes in, there is hope; there is light”.

“Our journey in the coming weeks and months will not be easy, but our future is in our hands,” he stated.

Classes in Arts, Humanities, and Social Science (AHSS) in Trinity have been moved entirely online until at least mid-November. Some laboratory classes for sciences remain in-person as of Monday.

Trinity has not provided communication to students since the government’s announcement.

Audrey Brown

Audrey Brown is a Senior Sophister of English Studies, and the Deputy News Editor of Trinity News.