Last updated: Thursday 2nd September 2021
*Subject to change based on government guidelines.*
This page is the Studying In Pontifical University Maynooth guide for students who will be studying with us in 2021/22. It explains what we will do in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how teaching and studying on campus will proceed.
As the country emerges from the worst impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we re- open on campus higher education, but that we do so carefully, and in a manner consistent with public health guidance. We plan to return to on-campus teaching for all but the large lectures, supported by a series of additional measures to reduce the risk of transmission.
Most on-campus teaching starts on 20 September 2021. First year undergraduates have been delayed by 1 week because of the late release of Leaving Cert results. They will have registration and orientation on the 23rd and 24th September, and start lectures on 27th September. This will reduce the number of teaching weeks for first year students to 11 for the first semester.
Our teaching next year will be guided by the following principles:
1. For all students on-campus teaching and learning offers the best possible experience. Our aim is to maximise on-campus teaching as far as possible.
2. We will be guided by the public health guidelines. If there are instructions issued about how we can operate, we will comply, even if these arise at short notice.
3. We will not increase on-campus teaching at short notice. If and when public health measures are relaxed, we will give several weeks’ notice of intention to change to more on- campus teaching. Where possible the change will be aligned with a mid-term break or a semester break. This will give students time to make the necessary arrangements.
4. Where we are providing on-campus teaching there may be a minority of students who want a fully online alternative. We do not have the capacity for dual mode teaching, and therefore our policy is that teaching will be on campus.
5. When teaching activities are on campus, the students are expected to attend.
Playing your part – what we ask you to do
Individual actions are the key to ensuring public health. Over the last 18 months we have been very proud of our students. Pontifical University students behaved responsibly since the pandemic began, and did their best to comply with the public health measures. This year, we need you to continue to behave responsibly and to play your part in reducing the spread of the virus. These are the main things we are asking you to do:
1. Stay off-campus if symptomatic: If you have symptoms that could be COVID, please stay off the campus and avoid contact with others. If you develop symptoms when you are on campus, you should call the Covid Response team at extension 7999 (01-474 7999). They will guide you to an isolation room where you can wait safely. While there you can contact your doctor or the Student Health Centre, and you can arrange to be collected to go home. If there is no-one to collect you, our team will help you to get home without risk of infecting others. If you live on campus, our team may ask you to move to a separate room, to minimise the risk of passing on infection to others. If you are confirmed to have COVID, please let the Covid Response team know – they will use this information to help in contact tracing and other protective measures.
2. Personal responsibility: Take responsibility for managing the situation. If you think that you are too close to others, or if you think an event is overcrowded, move away. By doing so you reduce the risk to yourself, and set an example to others.
3. Vaccination: We strongly recommend that you get vaccinated as soon as you can, unless you have been advised not to by your doctor. If you are vaccinated, you reduce your chance of getting ill, and reduce the risk of infecting others. If you decide not to get vaccinated then you should take extra care to keep your distance from others, avoid social events and other unnecessary contact.
4. Sanitisers: You should wash your hands and sanitise regularly throughout the day, and sanitise before going into each venue. We will provide sanitisers in the university buildings, but you should also carry your own pocket sanitiser, as this will avoid a queue at the sanitisers. We will provide free refill stations around the campus where you can refill your personal sanitiser.
5. Face covering: You should wear a face covering (mask) when you are indoors. This will mean wearing a mask during all classes. There may be a small number of people who are medically unable to wear a mask. In that case you should provide confirmation from your GP or consultant. Please contact the Student Heath Centre for guidance on what documents to provide.
6. Cleaning: We will have enhanced cleaning protocols so that key surfaces are cleaned more often than usual. We will also provide wipes in computer rooms and labs, and we would like you to take a wipe as you enter the room, and wipe down the equipment you will touch.
7. Data sharing: We will work with the health authorities to facilitate contact tracing. We may share your contact details (name and telephone number only) with the HSE if needed for contact tracing. We will not share personal data such as your PPS number. This will only be shared for the purposes of contact tracing. You will be required to consent to this sharing at registration.
8. Recording of attendance: We will need to keep track of attendance, so that we can trace contacts in the event of an outbreak. We ask that you cooperate with the measures in place to record attendance, and make sure that your attendance is properly recorded. We will also use the class list to help identify people who may have attended a lecture. Please DO NOT attend any lectures or classes that you are not scheduled to attend, unless you have the agreement of the lecturer.
Our part: some of the measures we have in place to help protect you
We have been doing a lot of work on our campus to help reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.
Some of the measures in place are:
1. Ventilation: In rooms where there is mechanical ventilation, the systems have been set to increase fresh air circulation. In rooms with natural ventilation we will be requiring that some windows remain open to increase air circulation. We will be monitoring rooms centrally. These measures will mean more fresh air in teaching spaces, and reduce the possibility of aerosol transmission. Unfortunately it will also make the rooms cooler than usual.
2. Lecturer spaced from students by 2 metres: In teaching spaces we will have the lecturer spaced by 2 metres from the nearest student. This is because the lecturer will be facing you, and will not have to wear a mask while teaching. Please respect this 2 metre zone around the lecturer and keep your distance.
3. Extra-spacing seats: In larger venues, we will arrange a small number of seats at extra spacing from the others. These seats are intended as “priority for those who feel vulnerable”. If you are medically vulnerable, or are medically unable to wear a face covering, please use these seats. Please allow the most vulnerable people priority in these seats.
4. Capacity assessment: We will review the capacity in each room using the ventilation standards. In some cases you will see a maximum capacity posted on or near the door of the room. Please do not exceed the capacity in a room.
5. Open sided tents: We want you to stay outdoors as much as possible, so we are installing a series of large “stretch tents” around the campus. These are intended as social spaces where you can meet outdoors, with some shelter. If you want to chat with your friends, please meet outdoors whenever you can. This will reduce the number of people in the indoor spaces and help prevent overcrowding.
6. External tables: We are also installing extra seating and tables outdoors around the campus, to help you stay outside as much as possible.
7. Behaviour reminders: We all need reminders from time to time and we will be reminding you about important behaviours like mask wearing, sanitising and maintaining distance. You will see messages on screen savers, and in lectures. We will also have a team of campus concierges who will remind you if they think you are getting too close, or forgetting your mask. We expect you to listen to this advice and to cooperate with these concierges.