Students advised not to travel to Limerick if classes are online amid Covid college restrictions

Fintan Walsh

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Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Students advised not to travel to Limerick if classes are online amid Covid college restrictions

UNIVERSITY of Limerick students have been advised not to travel to Limerick if all their classes are online, its president has said in an email this Friday evening. 

Thousands of students across Limerick have been briefed about the sudden change of plans in returning to the classrooms and lecture halls next week, after the Government put all third level institutions into a Level 3 pandemic ‘lockdown’. 

Minister Simon Harris instructed all higher education institutions that all classes must be taught online, where possible. 

Research, library services, laboratory and practical classes are exempt from the restrictions, which are considered Level 3 measures, as Dublin institutions have already been adhering to these guidelines. 

The instructions come just days before thousands of students are preparing to return to campus education for the first time since March when the first of many Covid-19 restrictions were introduced. 

In an email to more than 17,000 students, UL president Prof Kerstin Mey announced a number of specific measures for its campus, following an urgent meeting among the UL executive committee this Friday. 

All social and club activities are to be suspended until further notice, according to the new measures. 

For the next two weeks, all Kemmy Business School and Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences programmes will be entirely online, save for Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. 

The “vast majority” of classes in Faculty of Education and Health Sciences and Faculty of Engineering will also move online, with the exception of labs, workshops and some essential tutorials.

All research and PhD activities will continue as normal, Prof Mey said. Timetables will change at the weekend, signifying “online” and “on-campus” classes. 

“UL students are being advised not to travel to Limerick if their full programme is due to be delivered online over the next two weeks,” she said. 

“Now, more than ever, it is vital that you take responsibility for your actions, follow the public health guidelines, limit your social contacts and stay safe. We must do this and take these actions in order to protect everyone in our community. Have a good weekend,” she said in an email.

In a public note, Mary Immaculate College [MIC] said that it will “will use discretion when deciding between on-campus and online delivery of its teaching activities, and favour remote delivery, where feasible”. 

The college is “urgently reviewing its arrangements” for the “small percentage” of students—around 1,000—who were due to return to campus next week. 

The college will “enhance existing protection measures, such as more extensive wearing of face masks in certain settings”. 

Priority will be given to lessons that must necessarily take place on-campus, it said. 

“It will also include limited planned on-campus attendance for other priority student cohorts.  This may include small-group tutorials which cannot be undertaken online, so long as these are conducted on a staggered basis to avoid congregation or large on-campus attendances.”

The library will remain open with a “click and collect” service. 

“MIC has consistently communicated to its students in relation to the risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to reinforce its messages to students regarding the importance of personal responsibility in safeguarding themselves and the wider community.  This is underpinned by national guidance for the further and higher education sectors and by more detailed implementation guidelines developed by public health experts.”

“It is anticipated that these additional measures will be reviewed after an initial period in view of evolving public health advice,” the college said. 

Meanwhile, the situation at Limerick Institute of Technology appears to be unchanged, as their classes have been online since students returned to tuition in the past two weeks. 

A spokesperson for LIT said: “The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris TD, has today called on HEIs to ensure that face-to-face teaching is limited to practical classes, such as lab activity, workshops, small tutorials, where online / remote teaching is not possible. 

“This has been LIT’s approach since our second, third and fourth year students returned for the new academic year two weeks ago.  This position adheres to the guidelines issued by the Department of Further and Higher Education, as well as advice from NPHET and the HSE.”

The spokesperson said LIT will continue this approach with the new arrival of first year students on Monday.