200,000 college students to return to campus from September with facilities fully open
They are hoping for almost full-scale activities including bars, society events and lectures to be able to take place very soon.
200,000 college students are set to return to campus from September with large-scale lectures and nearly all facilities fully open, under plans being considered by Government.
The Cabinet will be discussing the plans, which would see almost full-scale on-site activities and lectures be allowed to resume, on Tuesday.
However, numbers at campuses at any one time would likely continue to be monitored, using timetabling, and the use of rapid antigen testing at universities would also likely come into effect.
Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris is set to seek approval at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday for almost all education and other activities to reopen as part of the Government’s wider Covid-19 reopening plan, the Irish Times reported.
If approved, institutions should plan on the basis that everything will return as large-scale lectures will be permitted if the public health situation at the time allows.
The Government is likely to analyse public health data closer to the time and if case numbers are low, facilities such as laboratory teaching, tutorials, workshops, smaller lectures, research, workplaces, libraries, canteens, sports facilities, clubs and societies, and bars, will be able to reopen.
All of the activities will be subject to public health guidelines with social distancing, maximum numbers and other protocols likely to be in place.
The decision will also be heavily dependent on the rollout of Ireland's vaccination programme, with a number of third-level students expected to be vaccinated by September.
While the institutions will begin planning for larger lectures, changes including remote lectures for larger lectures, increased ventilation, timetabling and antigen testing may need to be rolled out if the public health advice at the time warrants it.