The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced yesterday that schools and colleges would close from today until March 29th, in order to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. UCD has announced plans to move teaching and learning online for the remainder of the academic year. In an email received by students and staff from UCD President Andrew Deeks, he announced that “some buildings will remain open as usual and some will operate access control as happens currently at weekends.” Estate Services have also said that buildings will be operating normal opening hours.
Although the University is shut down, some services are still running. Here’s a list of what’s on, and what’s not:
The Student Centre
- The Student Centre will remain open during the university shutdown. Yesterday, societies received an email announcing the cancellation of all event bookings: “The Student Centre has cancelled all bookings from 6pm tonight March 12th until March 29th. By that stage we will have a better idea of the situation and how our events will be managed from then on.”
Normal opening hours will apply to the UCD gym and pool although there will be “restricted access” and “social distancing protocols” to follow within the facility.
- UCD Libraries closed early in the evening of March 12th but operated up until March 13th, where it closed at 8pm. On the morning of March 14th, the UCD Library made a statement announcing that all UCD Library buildings, including James Joyce library, would close until March 18th. Users of UCD Library will also have all fines waived on overdue books until March 29th. Students have been advised to check UCD Library social media for more updates.
- UCD Residences will remain open during the period of university closure.
- The Clubhouse Bar will be “trading as usual” but will be “implementing procedures recommended for social distancing, this includes but not limited to restricting the number of patrons in the bar at any given time, fixed furniture layout & encouraging our patrons to wash their hands.” The bar is now limited to 100 people as per the recent government recommendations.
Clubs & Societies
- UCD societies have yet to receive formal correspondence from the Societies Council, but the Student Centre has made a public statement. Many societies have already cancelled and postponed large events in UCD during the nationwide university shutdown.
In a statement online, the Student Centre announced: “Sports Club and Society activities are suspended from 9am on March 13th until March 29th.” This includes training, matches, social events and any small or large gatherings of clubs and society groups.
All outdoor and indoor sports facilities will be closed from March 13th until March 29th.
The Students’ Union
- UCD Students’ Union have also announced that “in light of the announcement made by the Taoiseach […] the offices of the Students’ Union and the Students’ Union Shops will be closed from 6pm Thursday 12th March 2020 until further notice.” A statement on social media informed students that “Students’ Union Officers and Staff are all available online during normal working hours.”
The University Club
- The University Club and O’Reilly Hall will be closed until March 30th.
- All masses in the UCD Chaplaincy have been suspended until and including March 29th. The closure will be reviewed after this date by the Chaplaincy.
Dramsoc is shutting until March 29th which includes postponing all productions between 6th-17th April. In an online statement, the society said this was “due to the reduced timeframe for rehearsals and production. We will endeavour to stage these productions during the early summer, so as not to disappoint all casts and crews involved.”
Belfield FM is yet to announce how the university closure will affect their show schedule from March 23rd. With the radio station located in the Student Centre, access to ‘the Pod’ may remain open.
Update on Belfield FM
- Belfield FM have emailed members today, informing students that “Belfield FM will be ceasing regular broadcasting indefinitely.” Station Manager, Matthew O’Leary went on to say: “If we don’t restart broadcasting until next year, from behalf of myself and everyone else on the committee – its been a pleasure hearing your shows and getting to know ye over the past few months. I hope you learned something! I learned a lot!”
In an email to Society Auditors, Societies Officer Richard Butler has announced that all “society public activity” to be officially suspended until March 29th. He went on to say: “there should be no meetings, trips, speakers, social events or other activities arranged for this period, and events already planned or arranged should be cancelled or postponed.”
The current two-week break in UCD sees a large number of societies on trips abroad. Butler stated: “Any society trips currently out of the country should investigate with their travel/accommodation providers what options are possible regarding the curtailment of the trip. In the event this is not possible, members should take all necessary steps to maintain social distancing and appropriate isolation and care protocols.”
The Societies Officer has allowed for “low-number society activity to proceed” on a case-by-case assessment of the society’s Auditor or Committee, providing HSE protocols are followed. He also suggested committee meetings can be conducted “via online conferencing platforms.”
UCD Societies are also approaching AGM season, which may be affected by the University closure. Butler noted the importance of societies electing a new committee, saying he “will be exploring and considering options regarding the facilitation” of elections.
Butler also noted it is “difficult to say whether or not the Society of the Year Awards will proceed.”
More to follow…
Conor Capplis – Editor