Archive for March 12, 2020

Closing Down in Maynooth – Updated

Posted in Maynooth on March 12, 2020 by telescoper

Not unexpectedly the (acting) Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced that from 6pm today all schools college and cultural institutions will close until 29th March. Indoor events involving more than 100 people will be banned, as will outdoor events involving more than 500 people.

I think this decision is sensible, if perhaps a bit late. I am less convinced that it is sensible to allow pubs and restaurants to remain open.

We await full instructions on exactly how the closure will be implemented at Maynooth University but it is clear that teaching and student attendance on campus will be suspended for the period announced. As I outlined yesterday we have a Study Week next week so the as things stand we will have to deliver teaching remotely for the week after that. We have been undertaking contingency planning for this eventuality.

It is possible that staff will still be able to come on campus during the closure, but it is obviously better if they work remotely in accordance with the policy of `social distancing’.

I will update with further details as soon as they are available.

Update: we may be closing at 6pm, but I have a Computational Physics lab from 2pm to 4pm and that is going ahead as planned!

Another Update: Here is an excerpt of an email from the University outlining the extent of the closure:

Lectures, tutorials and practical classes are cancelled. It is important that from Monday 23rd March, as reading week concludes, that we provide as much on-line teaching and student support as possible to facilitate student learning. We know that departments have been making preparations, and recognise that while there are some colleagues proficient in blended learning, for others remote teaching will present challenges. The Vice-President Academic and the Dean of Teaching and Learning will circulate guidance and some additional resources tomorrow.

The University will continue to operate, but most teaching and much of its work will be done remotely. Research students and staff who need access to campus facilities will continue to be able to do so, unless advised otherwise by the Head of Department. Most campus buildings will remain open. A number of students will remain in residence. Given the public health objectives of the government decision, all staff who can work effectively from home are asked to do so. However, in order to maintain effective operations, some staff will need to be present on campus, with appropriate precautions. Your Head of Department or Manager will confirm if you need to be present and work on campus.

The student services, including the health centre and counselling will remain open, and students are being advised to contact these offices by email or phone, rather than in person. The University Library will be closed but will maintain a limited service for borrowers. Most catering outlets, the sports facilities and the crèche will be closed.

The University residences will remain open. Students who were planning to go home for reading week have been advised to go home, and to stay at home until lectures resume. International students and others who are unable to leave or do not wish to leave will continue to be accommodated as normal.

All events on campus will be cancelled, and face-to-face meetings, internal or external, should be kept to a minimum, with virtual meetings preferred.

The full advice from Maynooth University can be found here.

As a Head of Department I have informed all staff that they can (and should if it all possible) work from home for the period of the campus closure.