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Third-level colleges set to reopen from Monday

Additional and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris confirmed that universities and colleges are scheduled to reopen starting next week.

This follows a meeting on Friday between students, staff and management representatives to discuss resuming activity at the site.

Mr. Harris said: “Education is an essential service and I am pleased to confirm that the re-opening of Level 3 at the site will continue to operate in accordance with public health advice from Monday. Our priority will be teaching and learning.”

He said there will be an intermittent third-level reopening, with five colleges of higher education reopening on Monday and another five the following week.

Others will follow up throughout the month. The trainees are already on site in the technology sector to continue their training.

“Since the re-opening of Level 3 in September, public health teams have been working with Level 3 providers to ensure that staff and students have safe access to education,” said Mr. Harris.

“Last month, we provided €9 million in funding to purchase antigen tests for staff and students to provide an additional layer of protection. This will continue to be rolled out over the coming weeks and months.”

He confirmed that his administration is also working with the Executive Director of Health Services to start “vaccination week” again this semester to ensure students have access to their boosters.

The colleges will operate in line with a detailed framework for a safe return to campus, which has enabled return to on-site classrooms in higher education, further education and training since last October.

exams

Meanwhile, Trinity College Dublin has confirmed that it plans to go ahead with in-person and online exams for first-year students from next Monday.

The university’s student union has called for all exams to be moved online in light of the current public health situation.

However, a Trinity spokeswoman confirmed that in-person exams will take place at various locations on campus, all operating at significantly reduced capacity.

“Trinity plans to proceed as planned with those checks and has introduced additional mitigations to ensure social distancing,” she said.

“There has been no update regarding any change in the guidelines for the tertiary institutions and therefore we have decided to proceed as planned. Our plans are generally in line with those of other colleges and universities.”

Separately, Trinity will operate a vaccination center in the college dining hall Monday through Thursday for all staff and students. Boosters will be available, as will the first and second vaccinations.

The university said it encourages everyone in its community to get vaccinated.

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