Campus re-opens for first year students on 21st and for all students on 28th September
Maynooth University welcomes the re-opening of campus for students for the new academic year. The campus was closed in mid-March to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in accordance with public health measures, with all but essential operations moved online, and has re-opened gradually over the summer months.
Maynooth University recognises that this has been a time of loss and illness for many of our students, staff, graduates and the broader Maynooth community and we wish to extend our sympathy to those who have lost loved ones and whose families and friends have suffered ill-health in these difficult times.
During the past six months, Maynooth University has continued to deliver its academic programmes, examinations and student support services remotely.
The University is now preparing to fully re-open campus and will welcome first year students on 21 September for a week of orientation events, with most teaching resuming on 28 September. Both orientation and teaching will be delivered using a hybrid approach, with time spent both online and on campus.
The University’s aim is to provide the best possible experience for students this year, keeping operations as close to normal as possible, while taking the necessary health and safety precautions.
Given the evolving situation, the University is preparing to adapt to potential changes to public health guidelines as the year progresses. In order to meet public health guidelines for social distancing, the on campus teaching time for each student will be less than half what would be expected in a normal year. The University has released timetables and guides to help students understand how much time on campus to expect this year.
Over the summer, Maynooth University has done extensive work to prepare the campus for the return to teaching for staff and students. An individual risk assessment has been conducted for each department. Based on these assessments and the current public health guidelines, physical work has been done throughout the campus. This includes:
· Signage in all buildings of the public health measures in place.
· Sanitizing stations (including refill stations) throughout campus.
· Floor markings as a guide on where to walk, and to encourage separation.
· One-way systems in places, to increase separation.
· Staggered class start and end times to reduce congestion.
· The maximum capacity of any teaching venue has been reduced to 50 people, in line with guidelines.
· Seats in lecture theatres and other teaching venues have been arranged to meet the social distancing requirements.
· Students are expected to wear face coverings in classrooms, laboratories, the Library and anywhere maintaining 2m distance is difficult.
· Perspex barriers installed in offices open to callers.
· Reduced density of seating to enable separation in the Library, the Phoenix restaurant and other areas.
Teaching and Learning
MU is using a blended approach to programme delivery, which means a combination of in-person and online teaching. The University has installed specialist software, so that lectures can be streamed from each of the lecture theatres on campus, to allow students to view the lectures online, either live, or later. In most modules, students will participate using a mix of on-campus and remote learning.
Laboratory work, practical sessions and small group teaching will continue, but the reduction in capacity will mean fewer sessions for each student in most cases.
Promoting Safe Behaviours
The University wishes to provide assurance to the wider community of Maynooth that public health safety measures will be its priority over the next semester. Everyone has a personal responsibility to keep ourselves, family, friends, the campus, and the wider community as safe as possible from potential exposure to Covid-19.
In order to encourage a strong awareness of safe interactions with the wider community, the University, in conjunction with Maynooth Students’ Union, will run a student-focused communications campaign on how ‘Playing My Part’ is key to protecting the wider community. The campaign will run throughout campus and online, as well as at bus stops and the train station in Maynooth.
One key message being delivered to students and staff is that they must avoid coming on campus if they have any symptoms which could indicate COVID-19 infection. Additionally, there will be reminders throughout campus to observe the social distancing protocols, wash hands frequently, follow appropriate respiratory etiquette when coughing or sneezing, and wear face coverings whenever 2m distance cannot be maintained.
The University will also reinforce the message that students should not attend house parties and should restrict all gatherings in line with the public health guidelines at the time. They
should avoid shopping locally during hours designated for vulnerable people, and they should follow all guidelines related to public transportation.
Most student residences take the form of 3-6-person bedroom apartments with shared kitchen and living areas. No guests will be permitted to visit student accommodation and each apartment will act as a household.
Students will be required to complete an induction training prior to registering for courses and they will be shown videos on MU campus specific health and safety protocols at the beginning of the semester. There are rigorous precautions around wiping down desks and computers before and after use, as well as staggered start times to prevent crowding outside buildings.
The University has put its technology expertise to the cause. It has developed the Maynooth University Check in App in which students will be asked to scan a QR code at each new location or desk they attend around campus. The technology will be used to help the HSE identify close contacts in the event of a positive Covid-19 diagnosis. In addition, all students are asked to use the national Covid Tracker app.
International students arriving from countries not on the COVID-19 Green List must restrict their movements for the first 14 days after arrival. Some students are completing this restriction period in campus residences, with appropriate arrangements for food delivery and cleaning for a 14-day period. Information for international students travelling to Maynooth University is available here.
A security number is available to students to call immediately if they show symptoms when on campus, and they will be guided to an isolation room to wait safely while contact is made with the student’s doctor, and arrangements made to be collected or transported home without the risk of infecting others. The University also has established a Student Help Desk to serve as a one-stop shop for student queries about any aspect of the upcoming year. The Maynooth Access Programme is a key resources for students as well.
More detailed information on return to campus arrangements is available on the Maynooth University website at https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/coronavirus.