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Dublin: -3°C Tuesday 18 January 2022

Third level students will need to maintain two-metre social distance while on campus

The guidance was issued for third level students ahead of the upcoming academic year.

Image: Shutterstock/wk1003mike

STUDENTS WILL BE required to maintain a two-metre social distance while on campus when the upcoming semester begins next month, with face coverings required where this is not possible. 

The guidelines were published by the Irish Universities Association on how to safely bring students back to campus during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

TheJournal.ie last month reported that the two-metre rule would likely be applied for the upcoming year and that €100 million in funding was being sought to support the new Covid-19 measures.

The assessment took into consideration the size of institutes’ student populations – up to 30,000 in some institutions – student and staff needs, age demographics, and access to campus facilities. 

“These features present very specific challenges and demand bespoke solutions in the context of reopening. The on-site/on-campus experience is a fundamental and essential component of a third-level education,” it said. 

“This does not preclude online or blended teaching and learning, particularly in the first semester of 2020-21.”

The guidelines recommend that “a physical distance of 2 metres should be maintained under all circumstances possible… and in the exceptional circumstances where this cannot be achieved, appropriate precautions (such as face coverings, visors or barriers) should be employed.”

It recommends that lecture halls and work stations should also facilitate a 2 metre distance where possible but this can be reduced to 1 metre if necessary. 

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Facilities on campus such as gyms, pubs, restaurants and common spaces should all be monitored and operated in line with sector-specific guidelines.

A pathway of access to an area on campus where students with symptoms of Covid-19 can self-isolate should also be established.

Students will be reminded at the start of each session that they should leave if they
have symptoms of Covid-19 or if they are a ‘close contact’ of a person that has been diagnosed with Covid-19.

After each group of students leaves a lecture hall, workstations, lab, surface areas will need to be cleaned and disinfected. 

A Department of Higher Education spokesperson said: “Minister Simon Harris has put in place an overall framework for re-opening the HE and FE systems underpinned by a detailed Roadmap for Re-opening and extensive public health guidance.  

“The Roadmap for Re-opening explicitly envisaged that the various sectors of the tertiary system could develop their own detailed implementation public health advice and guidelines to deal with particular context-specific issues arising in different HE and FET settings.

 The Guidelines published today were developed and issued by the higher education sector itself led by the by the representative body for universities – the Irish Universities Association – working with the representative body for Institutes of Technology THEA and TU Dublin.”

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