May 14, 2020

Staff Told Not to Return to Campus Next Monday, Despite Government Directive

The government's five-step plan says teaching staff can return to organise online teaching, but Trinity has told them to do so from home.

Donal MacNameeEditor
Alex Connolly for The University Times

Trinity’s teaching staff have been instructed not to return to College next Monday despite a government directive that says they can come in to prepare online learning.

Meanwhile, only current residents will have access to the campus, Trinity confirmed on May 15th, despite previously confirming that residents would be allowed back on campus as normal.

In an email statement to The University Times, Catherine O’Mahony, a Trinity media relations officer, wrote: “We would like to clarify that only students and staff who are currently in residence at Trinity Hall or the main Campus will continue to have access to the campus from Monday May 18th. Separate arrangements will be announced next week to facilitate students who wish to collect their belongings.”


On May 14th, Trinity had confirmed to The University Times that residents would be allowed back on campus as normal on May 18th.

In an email sent to staff and students, Provost Patrick Prendergast acknowledged the government’s five-step plan for a phased re-opening of the country, which says schools and colleges will be opened on May 18th “for access by teachers for organisation and distribution of remote learning”.

But Prendergast said: “At this stage, teaching staff in Trinity should continue to work from home for this purpose and should not come into college.”

Residents will be allowed to return to the campus, and outside contractors working on building sites in the College will resume work “where social distancing is possible and in line with the government’s plan”.

The College will re-open for staff involved in priority research, such as studies focused on the coronavirus, and the College Health Service will treat a “limited” number of people, who will need to make appointments over the phone in advance.

Despite the re-opening of the campus to residents of Trinity’s accommodation, its catering facilities remain closed, while entrance to the College will continue to be limited to Lincoln Gate and Front Gate.

Prendergast wrote that in “the months ahead we will all have a part to play in the necessary steps to return Trinity to normal activities, “recognising that some activities will not return to what they were before the pandemic”.

He added: “It remains far from clear how long this will take but we can assure you that your safety and health remains our chief concern. Every decision will be taken with that concern foremost in mind, with due respect to the government guidelines, and recognising what is feasible in the Trinity setting.”

Trinity’s campus has been closed since March 12th, when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar instructed schools and colleges to shut their doors.

Last month, College told residents in its student accommodation to vacate their apartments, giving 24 hours’ notice to Irish students and 48 hours’ notice to international students.

The move prompted widespread backlash among students, with international students left scrambling to find flights home amid uncertainty over a set of criteria that meant some students were allowed to remain on campus.

Update: 14:58, May 15th, 2020
Due to inaccurate information provided to The University Times by the College on May 14th, an earlier version of this article implied that campus will re-open to all residents next Monday. Trinity today clarified that only students and staff who are currently in residence will continue to have access to campus. This article has been updated to reflect this new information.

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