Message for all students of International Development, August 11th 2020
I hope you and your families and friends have been keeping safe and well over the past months. We are all going through a challenging and uncertain time and, despite recent additional restrictions in the Kildare area, we are continuing to prepare for our return to campus and to our various programmes at the end of September. We are looking forward to working with you all over the coming year.
As you know, the university experience will not be the same this coming year as it has been in the past. At the same time, as a university, we are making every effort to support students to have as much on-campus experience as possible. The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has published a guidance on the operation of further and higher education institutions in the coming year. The President of Maynooth University, Professor Philip Nolan has recently welcomed the guidance and highlighted the following key clarifications on how our teaching, research and operations will be delivered in the coming academic year:
- The University will continue to plan to operate in a way that is fully consistent with public health guidance; the safety and welfare of our staff and students is paramount.
- If staff or student experience any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, or are a close contact of a confirmed case, they should not come to campus, and work or study remotely.
- The guidance supports the blended teaching approach that academic departments have been planning for the coming year. We expect that most undergraduate students will spend up to 50% of class time physically on campus, and the overall numbers on campus on a given day will be proportionately reduced to approximately 50% of normal.
- We will maintain 2m physical separation at all times between one staff member and another, and between staff and students in almost all circumstances.
- The documentation reinforces the advice that with appropriate mitigating measures the risk of a classroom setting where the physical distance between most students is reduced to less than 2m (but no less than 1m) is low, and this will continue to be the basis of our planning.
- Safe operations will be reinforced by additional mitigation measures, including the routine use of face coverings by students in classroom situations.
- There will be additional supports for all individuals to maintain hand hygiene.
- We will have robust protocols in place to enable the HSE to trace close contacts, and to deal effectively with a member of staff or student who may fall ill with Covid-19, supported by good information on campus contacts.
- There will be a communications campaign, aimed specifically at students on their behaviours and personal responsibilities; and all students will be required to complete specific Covid-19 induction and training before the new academic year begins.
- Very high risk individuals will be facilitated in working or studying remotely, and we will work with high risk staff and students to ensure they work or study safely.
Further details and guidance related to the University response to COVID-19 can be found at: https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/coronavirus
At the Department of International Development, we are currently hoping to run most modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels with a mix of face-to-face and online methods, assuming that the situation with COVID-19 allows and that government guidance remains as above. As such, for undergraduate students, we hope to have at least one face to face in-class session for each student for each module per week along with additional support online. This will include materials uploaded to Moodle pages and may also involve synchronous online sessions.
Timetables are currently being worked on and will, hopefully, be finalised by early September. We hope to be in a better position to clarify precise arrangements for each module and programme by then but, of course, we too have to respond to any changes in the situation with regard to COVID-19, keeping the safety and welfare of students and staff to the fore.
If you have any questions about your programme, please don't hesitate to get in contact with us by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
With every good wish,
Dr. Eilish Dillon
Head of Department