Update from Provost, College Secretary to staff and students
14 May 2020
As we approach the first stage of the government's plans to reopen society, it is a good time to once again thank you for your perseverance over the past two months in adjusting to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As you know, the Government published its Overview of Reopening Phases and Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business on 1 May:
In the months ahead we will all have a part to play in the necessary steps to return Trinity to normal activities, recognising that some activities will not return to what they were before the pandemic. It remains far from clear how long this will take but we can assure you that your safety and health remains our chief concern. Every decision will be taken with that concern foremost in mind, with due respect to the government guidelines, and recognising what is feasible in the Trinity setting.
We know that many of you are eager to return to work and study over the summer months but we have to ask for patience while we devise and implement the necessary safety measures prior to resuming our on-site operations. These will, in turn, largely depend on government policies and restrictions which were published by Government following consultation with employer and union bodies, see https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Return-to-Work-Safely-Protocol.html
A sub-group of Executive Officers on Phased Resumption of Activities on Campus, which is chaired by the Provost and has the Secretary to the College as Deputy Chair, is making plans for a gradual resumption of operations. A lot of work is also taking place at the moment to determine what the next academic year will look like. It is too early to report the conclusions of these discussions but we expect to have a detailed description, depending on what happens at a national level, for example in terms of the dates on which CAO offers will be made. We will keep you updated in the meantime.
Next Monday (May 18) marks the beginning of the national plan to lift restrictions in a phased manner. This is an important first step. The reality is that most students and staff who are working or studying at home at present should continue to do so for the time being. The Government's document envisages a general opening of universities on August 10th.
The main exception is researchers working on projects that require a physical presence. The Dean of Research will write to the research community tomorrow (Friday) with detailed guidance on the procedures for researchers to request access to the campus to resume activities relating to research. We undertake that these requests will be dealt with expeditiously recognising the imperative of ensuring a safe working environment for all, and recognising the need for researchers to fulfil important obligations to research funders and their research collaborators globally.
While the Government's five-step plan envisages a general opening of universities on August 10th prior to the start of the 2020/21 academic year, it is important to note a caveat. On page 8 of that document, the plan allows for teaching staff in schools and universities to return to campus from Monday 18 May to prepare online courses. At this stage, teaching staff in Trinity should continue to work from home for this purpose and should not come into college.
The following limited activities will take place on campus with effect from Monday 18 May:
- Estates and Facilities staff who are currently doing such a good job of securing and maintaining the campus should continue to come to work as normal as we prepare the campus for the phased return of staff and students.
- Staff involved in priority research, including Covid-19 research, as approved by the Dean of Research.
- Staff in the College Health Service although the centre will only be able to treat a limited number of people in face-to-face consultations and appointments must be made by phone in advance.
- Staff in the Covid-19 Contact Tracing Centre in the Trinity Business School building
- Residents on the campus.
- Outside contractors working on building sites on campus will also resume work on Monday 18th May where social distancing is possible and in line with the Government's plan.
- The Library van is available at Lincoln Place entrance Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 12pm-2pm to accept book returns.
Apart from those activities, most of the campus will continue to be closed. The libraries continue to be closed although online activities continue. Sports are still not allowed and catering remains closed. Entrance to the college continues to be limited to the Lincoln Gate and Front Gate, and only for those to whom permission has been given.
We continue to update the www.tcd.ie/about/coronavirus/ pages with up-to-date information about the virus and college. Those interested in research and the virus can read more at www.tcd.ie/research/ about the multi-faceted response of our researchers to the crisis while further Trinity contributions to society are captured on www.tcd.ie/Communications/news/.
The Government response to the crisis continues to be under review and we expect to write to you with further updates in the weeks ahead as the situation evolves. In the meantime, we hope you and your families stay safe and well.
Patrick Prendergast – Provost
John Coman – Secretary to the College