Ireland’s colleges are set to remain closed beyond next Monday, Minister for Education Joe McHugh confirmed today, with schools and creches also staying shut.
Speaking on Galway Bay FM today, McHugh said the government will confirm today or tomorrow how long the shutdown will last, and will give an update on how state exams will be run.
McHugh said: “My commitment to the students and for the students who are maybe having their breakfast this morning and maybe getting ready to study and really, really putting in such an effort – my commitment to them, and the department’s commitment is, we want to make those exams happen.”
“Obviously we are going to be influenced and directed by the health experts”, he added. “We don’t know where we are going to be in terms of the peak of this virus.”
“I think we owe it to those young people who are studying and putting in the effort to see this through to try to have these exams this year.”
This announcement comes ahead of a cabinet discussion today on a new range of travel restrictions, with a ban on all non-essential travel set for debate.
Colleges have been closed since March 12th, with Trinity announcing the suspension of lectures for the rest of term, two days beforehand.
Trinity has also announced that all in person examinations are likely to be cancelled in favour of online assessment. On March 13th, The University Times reported that Trinity is considering six contingencies for assessment as a result of the pandemic, including the possibility that exams may take place in August.
Controversy erupted last week when Trinity instructed all residents of its accommodation to leave, giving them less than 48 hours to vacate the premises.
Irish students were given 24 hours’ notice, while international students were told they should “aim to have left their Trinity accommodation” within 48 hours of the announcement.
The following day, this newspaper reported that many international students were scrambling to find a way home – with several reporting huge “stress and anxiety” and many hitting out at the College. One asked: “What the hell were they thinking?”