COVID-19 (coronavirus) Update



By Maura O'Shea

Posted: 21 October, 2020

As of midnight on October 21, Ireland was placed on Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID.

The Level 5 measures in this plan designate higher and further education as essential, insofar as onsite presence is required and such education activities cannot be held remotely.

Institutions and providers are best placed to determine where onsite presence is required but essential activities at Level 5 in further and higher education may include:

· Teaching and research in laboratories, practical and skills-based tuition, workshops (including training of apprentices).

· Engagement, including small group learning, with learners whose particular needs require additional support over and above that which can be provided online.

· Scheduled access to libraries and other onsite study space for those students who do not otherwise have suitable facilities or home environment to access learning remotely.

· Small group activity to mitigate disadvantage in literacy, numeracy and basic skills provision including the National Youthreach Programme and community and adult education and literacy programmes.

· Skills and experiential learning for disciplines related to essential services such as clinical placements and regulated safety training in the construction sector

· On-campus research activities which cannot be undertaken remotely.

· Provision of necessary onsite support to meet the mental health and welfare needs of students.

Level 5 of the Plan is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2dc71-level-5/

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, said the further and higher education institutions have already moved classes primarily online, with student and staff welfare being of paramount importance.

“We are now in a scenario where Ireland as a whole must move to Level 5 of the Government’s plan for living with COVID, and that means that all further and higher education institutions should continue to deliver the vast majority of classes online.

“Campus accommodation will remain open to students and staff but with no visitors permitted. In line with Level 5, from Wednesday midnight students are asked to exercise within 5 kilometres of their accommodation and not visit other households.

“All appropriate protective measures will be maintained to support these onsite activities and to avoid congregation. For transport to and from campuses for the above essential purposes walking and cycling is encouraged but public transport can be used where necessary.

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