Opening Up Again

The Irish Government has just produced its plan for A Safe Return to on-site further and higher education and research that outlines what is basically a full return to on-campus activity from September 2021.
I quote from the preamble to the document linked to above:

It is expected that the majority of the people over 18 in Ireland will have been vaccinated by September 2021, and so planning is proceeding on the basis that full resumption of on-site activity is possible, while ensuring that overall numbers attending on-site are monitored and controlled.

In the absence of regular updates about the progress of Ireland’s vaccination programme it is difficult to know whether the first sentence is accurate or not, especially since it appears that two vaccine doses are needed to protect against the Delta-variant. I think most teaching staff will have been immunized by September, but am not so sure about the student population.

I’m also mindful that we were optimistic in advance of the start of last academic year and things didn’t exactly go to plan then. Nevertheless there do seem to be reasonable grounds for believing that we can return to on-campus teaching in September and we will be planning on that basis until there is evidence to the contrary. I just hope we don’t have to do a rapid about-turn like we did last year.

The first step in this process for us here in Maynooth is that from 5th July staff and research students can return to their offices on campus – following the existing protocols on social distancing, sanitation and ventilation – without having to make a special case. Only a few people have been working inside the Department since the start of the year and I’d expect most to begin making their way back.

In fact some members of the Department of Theoretical Physics joined us only this academic year and have never actually been the building (or on campus) at all. I suppose I’ll now have to find office space for them, something that hasn’t been necessary while we have all been working from home!

As a matter of fact, since it’s a nice day and I’ve been on Teams all morning, I might take a walk onto campus myself this afternoon and visit my office in the Department for the first time in a month…

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