UCD President Professor Andrew Deeks emailed students and staff this evening, detailing changes in response to the governments decision today to shut “schools, colleges and childcare facilities” from tomorrow until the 29th of March.
UCD will move to “at-distance teaching and learning model”, most exams will take place “at a distance”, the library and student centre will remain open, UCD Residences will also remain open, UCD oversees travel is suspended and the Students’ Union and the Students’ Union Shops will close.
The President announced that from “23rd March, (end of fieldwork/study period) through to the end of the academic year, we will be adopting an at-distance teaching and learning model for all undergraduate and taught masters students.” The University has been preparing extensively over the past number of weeks in anticipation of heightened government restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Deeks went on to say: “We will continue to schedule teaching activities for each module in the existing semester timetable and academics and tutors will continue to interact with you in line with this timetable, but through electronic means.
“Some lectures will be podcasted, but you will be given opportunities to interact with each other and with your lecturers remotely. Tutorials and group work will be mediated through on-line video services.”
He also commented at the probability of most final exams going ahead, saying: “In most cases (except for a small number of clinical programmes) all assessment, including final exams, will take place at distance.” It is currently unclear what measures the University will take to ensure exams are taken at “a distance.”
Confusion over whether the library would remain open was evident amongst students and library staff earlier today. The President set the record straight, announcing that “the library and student centre will remain open, although limits will be placed on the number of people present in the spaces and appropriate protocols put in place. Some buildings will remain open as usual and some will operate access control as happens currently at weekends.” Specific details on building closures are not yet known.
UCD Residences is also set to remain open during this period.
The University has also announced that “all overseas travel is suspended until further notice and UCD Global will be in touch with students who are currently overseas.”
Meetings will continue to take place in the coming days amongst UCD management, in which further decisions will be made.
UCD Students’ Union also announced this evening 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.”
In a press conference earlier today in Washington DC, Varadkar made the statement saying: “From 6pm today, the following measures are being put in place, and they will stay in place until the 29th of March. Schools, colleges and childcare facilities will close from tomorrow. Where possible, teaching will be done online or remotely. Cultural institutions will close as well.” The Taoiseach is in Washington DC for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Varadkar went on to say: “Our advice is that all indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor mass gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled. You need to continue to go to work if you can, but where possible you should work from home.”
More to follow…
Conor Capplis – Editor