Ability co_op criticises unclear supports and allowances for immunocompromised students

Trinity Ability co_op say it is “incredibly disappointing to see the increased accessibility that came as a result of the pandemic being left behind”

Supports and allowances accessible for immunocompromised students remains unclear, as Trinity returns to in-person teaching for Hilary Term. 

The Library and teaching spaces are operating at full capacity, while face coverings are currently still required. Yesterday, students and staff received a ‘welcome back’ email from Vice-Provost Prof Orla Sheils.

Speaking to Trinity News about the email, a spokesperson for the Trinity Ability co_op said: “While it is positive to have a return to in-person teaching which many disabled students will benefit from, it is also incredibly disappointing to see the increased accessibility that came as a result of the pandemic being left behind.”

“In the past, remote learning for immunocompromised and disabled students was avoided due to a lack of resources or training for staff, but now it is clear that all lecturers and teaching staff can accommodate remote learning when necessary.”

The spokesperson added: “The Trinity Ability co_op think it would be completely unfair and discriminatory for the college to ignore the voices of vulnerable students who hoped that important lessons had been learned over the last two years and that we would move towards a more inclusive, blended teaching and learning style.”

Trinity News asked College what allowances were being provided for immunocompromised students. This newspaper enquired if lecturers were mandated to record classes if an immunocompromised student felt unable to attend in person, and if a student’s grade would be affected if attendance was mandatory.

A spokesperson for College clarified that more information on specific allowances for immunocompromised students was forthcoming, but added: Where temporary absence from class because of ill-health is required, lecturers will provide resources to ensure that the student can fulfil the learning outcomes.”

“This may involve recorded lectures, but may involve other resources”, the spokesperson concluded.

College began easing restrictions in the second half of Michaelmas Term, as part of phase two of its reopening plan.

On October 22, the Library scrapped social distancing and the booking system. On November 1, after reading week, Trinity removed social distancing in general, with teaching spaces operating at full capacity, and campus reopened to the public. 

Sheils yesterday said: “I remind everyone that while students or staff might need to be absent temporarily from in-person teaching and learning activities due to Covid-19 symptoms or other illness, there is no general provision for UG or PGT students to study remotely, unless the course has been designed in this way.”

The email continued: “It remains very important that everyone takes responsibility for their own health and vaccination status, also remembering the importance of protecting those more vulnerable in our College community and society at large.”

Sarah Emerson

Sarah Emerson is currently a Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. She is a Senior Sophister English Literature and Jewish and Islamic Civilizations Student.