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Government must address Covid risks as students return to third-level - Rose Conway-Walsh TD

23 September, 2020 - by Rose Conway Walsh TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Higher Education Rose Conway-Walsh TD has asked the Government to outline how they plan to prevent outbreaks in third-level campuses.

This comes following outbreaks on campuses at Scottish and English universities, with 500 students in isolation in Dundee Halls, as well as eighty students and seven staff infected at Liverpool University.

Speaking after today's Oireachtas Covid-19 Committee, the Mayo TD said:

"Tens of thousands of students will be criss-crossing Ireland from this week to attend Dublin institutions and other colleges. Many of these are young people who will be living away from home for the first time.

"Considering that Dr. Ronan Glen tells us that Covid19 is disproportionately spread by younger people, is it realistic to expect them to adhere to the rules on and off campus?

"I asked the experts if they had advice for Government in relation to the handling of Covid19 at third level institutions. Do they think face-to-face teaching may have to end at least temporarily?

"TCD Associate Professor of Biochemistry Tomás Ryan commented that classes had successfully moved online during the lockdown and that structures including blended models, reduced contact, and low attendance lectures will be utilised.

"However, he also suggested that the Irish patterns of not living on campus and then returning home at weekends 'pose very significant challenges to any regionalised strategy'.

"Third level institutions such as Trinity College are piloting 'blanket testing' to combat Covid19 according to Professor Ryan'but that is not going to be a panacea for the challenges that we are facing'.

"Circumstances that expose students and their families to infection must be minimised. The creep of Covid19 from campus to county cannot be allowed."

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