Did UCD intend to return students to campus as promised, prior to the introduction of Level 3 restrictions?
A spokesperson for UCD told The University Observer;
"Many UCD faculty and staff spent the Summer preparing to maximise on-campus teaching for students within the constraints of public health guidelines. UCD was intimately involved in the negotiations which led to the issuing of the document ‘Implementation Guidelines for Public Health Measures in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)’ which was released on August 6 2020 . Our plans were modified to ensure compliance with these guidelines and timetables were prepared accordingly.
When the National Framework for living with COVID-19 was issued on Tuesday September 15, we determined that we could proceed with our plans even under Level 3 restrictions. However, on Friday 18th of September we were directed to move as much teaching as possible online and to minimise the number of students on campus, an approach which aligns with Level 4 in the published Framework.
We understand that this direction came as a result of concerns with potential congregation of students outside teaching and learning settings, and that the precautions we are taking in teaching and learning settings are seen as safe and appropriate. We understand that the number of students who would be using public transport was also a concern.
Given our commitment to maximising the student campus experience and the amount of effort we had put in to planning this experience over summer, it was therefore with great sadness we complied with this direction. While initially there was hope that Level 3 restrictions would only last three weeks, recent developments have indicated that these restrictions will most likely last most of the coming trimester, and so it was with deep regret that we decided to confirm that the current arrangements will continue to apply for the entire trimester.
Our guiding principle always was and continues to be to provide the best possible student learning journey and to maximise the student experience to the greatest extent possible under public health guidelines and Government direction."