Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris has announced that third-level institutions will return to on-site teaching as planned for the upcoming semester.
The Department for Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Research said that the minister made the decision “following a meeting with student, staff and management stakeholders” today.
Commenting on the decision, Harris said: “Education is an essential service and I am pleased to confirm the reopening of third level onsite will proceed consistent with public health advice from Monday [January 10]. Our priority will be teaching and learning.”
Yesterday, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union called for exams scheduled to begin on Monday to be moved online, as Covid-19 cases in Ireland continue to surge.
Harris continued: “Since third level reopened in September, public health teams have been working with third level providers to ensure staff and students can safely access education.”
Harris also said that the department would work with the Health Service Executive to roll out booster vaccinations to students. Trinity announced this week that it will be operating a vaccination clinic on campus in the Dining Hall next week.
Harris concluded by saying that the reopening of higher education following the winter break would follow the department’s Safe Return plan, published last Summer in advance of the academic year.
Primary and secondary education returned yesterday (January 6), despite teachers’ unions having expressed opposition to re-opening without the implementation of additional safety measures. Minister for Education Norma Foley met with unions on January 4 discuss the issue.