Break Points

It is now Week 6 of the Spring Semester at Maynooth University.  My lectures on Engineering Mathematics take th place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so today I gave the 18th of the semester, which means I am halfway through the module. Next week is a scheduled Study Week so there are no lectures planned after this Friday until 23rd March. Just two days to go before the breaking

It remains to be seen whether teaching does indeed resume on that day. If the coronavirus situation in Ireland gets much worse we may stay closed for a longer period.

There is a subdued mood around campus, and the number of students in my class this afternoon was significantly lower than usual. I don’t know whether that is because of coronavirus or because some students have headed home early for the break or because they didn’t fancy learning about curves and tangent vectors!

Last night the University issued updated guidance. The main thing is that we stay open but the Conferring Ceremonies for postgraduate degrees scheduled for Thursday and Friday next week have been postponed indefinitely.  The students will formally receive their degrees in absentia although they will (hopefully) be able to attend a ceremony to get their certificates in person at some point in the not-too-distant future.

I blogged on Monday about contingency planning and I’ve been spending quite a lot of time this week making the best arrangements possible for students in case we don’t reopen on 23rd March. That includes getting all the notes and examples sheets ready for Engineering Mathematics, which is now done.

My other module is Computational Physics. For that one there’s a small project that the students do (usually) in pairs. I published the list of projects for the students to pick from earlier than originally planned and will hopefully be able to allocate them before the end of this week. That way, if there’s a campus closure they can at least get on with their projects. Fortunately Python is free so they can run code on their laptops. All the other resources for that module will be available online too so disruption shouldn’t be too bad: even if we have to cancel the laboratory sessions the students can still work through the scripts on their own.

What will happen with examinations is not yet clear, but those don’t take place until May so they’re not the immediate priority!

I asked the students in my Engineering Mathematics at the end of this afternoon’s lecture please to keep an eye on their email and social media for announcements about changes in the situation. The positive message for students is that they are actually at very low risk of serious illness themselves (although they should of course take precautions to ensure they don’t infect others).

I feel a bit guilty for thinking about the positive message for staff, but I do have quite a bit of writing-up to do and a nice long campus closure would seem to provide an ideal opportunity to `self-isolate’ and get on with it. For the time being, though, it’s business as usual…

One Response to “Break Points”

  1. […] A blog about the Universe, and all that surrounds it « Break Points […]

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