Queen’s closes campus ahead of advice from UK government

The UK government has not yet advised schools and colleges to close

Queen’s University Belfast has enacted a partial shut down of its campus in response to the coronavirus pandemic, in a decision taken by the university’s Major Incident Team. The closure of the university comes ahead of any official advice from the UK government for schools and colleges to close, although the UK government has said that it is likely to take that measure at some point in the near future.

The Queen’s campus will be closed from today, “until further notice”, according to an email sent to all staff and students this evening by the university’s Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, Joanna Clague.

The email states that “all forms of face to face teaching will cease with immediate effect” and that “all teaching and associated material will be provided online as far as possible”. It also states that libraries will close from Sunday March 22, after a “short transitional period” designed to “support our move to a new way of working.”

“Other shared study spaces will remain open for the time being. If students wish to use these facilities, please follow advice regarding social distancing as far as possible”, the email reads.

University accommodation remains open and operating as normal, as do the staff and student wellbeing services.

The email says that staff “will transition to a working from home model where possible”.

Trinity’s campus is currently closed to all undergraduate students with the exception of those who live on-campus, following the government’s decision to close schools, universities, and cultural institutions.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced closure of universities in response to the coronavirus in a statement to the media in Washington DC last Thursday.

Access to campus for staff is to continue, while postgraduate students who require access to the campus in order to engage in “critical research projects” are to be admitted if they show they have received permission through email from their supervisors.

In an email circulated to staff and students shortly after 5pm last Thursday, Provost Patrick Prendergast confirmed that while the government’s decision is in effect until March 29, it “would be wise to allow for the possibility of a longer closure”.

Last night Trinity took the decision to order all residents to leave their rooms on campus, in Trinity Hall, the Binary Hub and Kavanagh Court unless the students fit specific criteria.

Finn Purdy

Finn Purdy is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News. He is a Junior Sophister English Studies student, and a former News Editor and Assistant News Editor.