Students could be returning to face to face learning on campus in September, says Trinity

Prioritisation of college staff and 18-34 year olds for vaccine leaves Trinity “hopeful” for a September return

Reprioritisation of the government’s Provisional Vaccine Allocation Groups could see Trinity return to face to face learning by the start of the next academic year, College officials announced yesterday evening. 

According to the government’s latest vaccination plan, members of third level institutions could see earlier vaccination than the general public, after those aged 55 to 60 years. 

Previously, it has been stipulated that those aged between 18 to 34 are to be prioritized under the roll-out plan, should research “demonstrates the vaccine(s) prevent transmission” within the community. The government plan states that this is due to “their increased level of social contact and role in transmission”.

Speaking to Trinity News this morning, a college spokesperson said: “We are hopeful, based on this information, that College can resume more face to face teaching in September.”

“However, it will of course depend on the progress of the pandemic and on public health advice,” they added.

Earlier this week, Taoiseach Micháel Martin announced the extension of the current Level 5 restrictions until April 5, with primary and secondary schools to return on a phased basis from March 1.

In an email to students yesterday evening signed by Vice Provost Jürgen Barkhoff, College said that the “good news” surrounding the latest restrictions is that the recent reprioritisation of the roll out of the vaccine would mean a return to campus for most students by the start of the next academic year, 2021/2022. This would be conditional on the vaccine being shown to lower the chance of transmission. In that case, according to the email, those aged between 18 to 35 would be vaccinated before those aged 35 to 50 and those working in third level institutions would be moved up the priority list.

Under the government plan, “people in occupations important to the functioning of society”, such as third level institutions, will be vaccinated earlier than anticipated, as they hold a “moderate risk of exposure”.  On the “ethical principles” for prioritising this group of people, the government says that the “principle of minimizing harm is upheld as protecting workers needed to maintain critical infrastructure and other important services will enable social and economic activity”.

“This looks promising for a return to face to face teaching from the beginning of the 2021/2022 academic year as the majority of our students and staff may be vaccinated,” Barkhoff added.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.