Trinity is weighing up a “rotation system” in its accommodation next year, which could see students allowed to use shared kitchens on a rota in order to ensure social distancing protocols are followed, Provost Patrick Prendergast said tonight.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime today, Prendergast argued the pandemic “doesn’t mean much-reduced numbers” in Trinity’s accommodation next year, claiming that a rotation system for the kitchen – coupled with the ensuite nature of most of College’s accommodation – could allow “quite a number of students to be in college accommodation”.
Last week, unpublished minutes seen by The University Times revealed a warning from Prendergast of the “need for students in College accommodation to do things differently by ensuring that kitchens and shared spaces are kept clean and tidy of all times”, as part of a plan to re-open Trinity’s accommodation “on a phased basis”.
He admitted that social distancing regulations will pose challenges to students as College attempts to return to normality when it comes to teaching, with term set to start on September 28th.
But he said: “Our main objective here is to give all our students a good Trinity education – not to end up, if you like, putting the whole year online.”
Prendergast urged incoming students not to defer starting college for a year. “I don’t really think deferring is a good idea”, he said. “I think that you’ve got to face up to the challenges that life brings, and the educational experience students will have here in Trinity next year will be as good as we can offer, given the circumstances.”
“I think it’s best to face into these challenges, rather than – what else would you do, sit at home for the year?”
Some sporting activity – such as tennis – will be able to return next year, Prendergast added, but team sports are unlikely to recommence. “The sports people here are looking into that”, he said.
He confirmed that classes of 25 and over will likely be taught online – a move revealed last week by The University Times – while groups smaller than 25 will take place in person.
“Almost all students will have some activity that needs to be done, and is best done, on the campus”, he said.
On Erasmus, Prendergast said Trinity’s decision to allow students to travel abroad next year – announced by the College last Friday – was made “in common with other universities around Europe”.
But he warned students who want to go “that some of the host universities may be offering a lot of courses online, and that might not be the full experience”.