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UCD students and staff have been given a “grace period” until 18:00 on Monday night to retrieve their belongings from lockers and offices. In light of new government restrictions, the campus is due to completely shut, save for non-essential activities. The Residences will remain open for tenants only. 

The campus lockdown comes after the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that further measures would be placed upon the country to further restrict social gatherings and interaction, in light of the developing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Education is not on the list of exemptions to the new government restrictions and, as such, travelling for or attending education is not permitted. This comes to a blow to some students, particularly those who have limited internet access and amenities in their homes. Up until the Taoiseach’s announcement, provisions had been made for UCD students who fell into these categories to help facilitate their learning and studies on campus. However, this will now be revised. In a statement made by UCD’s Registrar and Deputy President Mark Rogers, all UCD students have been asked to remain at home so as to comply with the government’s latest restrictions. 

Should staff or students wish to collect any belongings before 6pm tomorrow, they should contact UCD Estate Services ([email protected]) to inform them their time of arrival and the building they will require access to. 

With regards to students living on campus, Professor Mark Rogers’ statement reiterated that external visitors were forbidden and that students must follow social distancing protocols. More updates will be provided as the situation develops, but until then UCD students have been asked to remain careful and to comply with the government’s measures to ensure the health and safety of others. 

The statement made a specific mention to medical students, who have exams this coming Monday (March 30th), for which a special arrangement will be made by their faculty. 

These increasingly stringent measures will be in place until at least April 12th, with the potential to be elongated further. The guidelines aim to ensure people remain at home to help quell the growth of the deadly virus. This will have a direct impact on Irish students, with campus’ shut for learning nationwide.

The new restrictions on movement allows for certain exemptions, such as shopping for food, to attend medical appointments, visiting people who need support, travelling for essential work purposes, providing care to children and several other reasons deemed crucial. 

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The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced on Tuesday that universities, schools and crèches will remain closed until at least April 19th. Outdoor gatherings have also been limited to a maximum of four people unless individuals belong to the same household. Non-essential businesses are also now closed.

UCD students began learning online on March 23rd. All students are to finish the remainder of the trimester through the online learning system Brightspace. Lectures have been streamed using the video conferencing tool Zoom. 

UCD President Andrew Deeks has said in his President’s Bulletin last week that the potential long-term impacts of COVID-19 for UCD could be “very serious” and have a severe impact on the university’s commercial activities. The President has appealed to recruitment staff to ensure international students, who make up over 20% of UCD’s annual income, attend the university next year. Deeks has also postponed the appointment of new academic staff under the Ad Astra Fellow scheme.

Earlier this week, the student group Fix Our Education UCD submitted an open letter to the university governing authority amid Deeks’ warnings of potential financial difficulties arising from the current COVID-19 pandemic. The group is calling for a reversal of the more than 12% rent increase on campus, a protection on funding for mental health and disability services, a protection on staff pay rates and a re-evaluation of university spending protocols.

 

Updates on the COVID-19 university shutdown will continue over the coming weeks…

 

Alex Lohier (Deputy Editor) and Conor Capplis (Editor)

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