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COVID-19 & UL

February 25 Increased patrols and on-campus testing

Dear students,

While we will continue to put every measure in place to try to ensure the current number of COVID-19 cases among our student community living in off-campus accommodation does not increase, the most powerful preventative measure is ultimately you and your own behaviour. 

There is huge disappointment among both staff and students about the report on national radio yesterday evening.  UL students were interviewed admitting mixing with other student households, reinforcing a growing public concern that our student body is acting irresponsibly and spreading the virus, despite the vast majority of you doing your best to abide by the current restrictions.

So to the minority of you who still believe there is no harm in continuing to gather – you are endangering yourselves, your friends, your families, your community and your university.

This is a highly infectious disease that has shattered millions of lives around the world. I know it is hard for you to live under almost constant public health restrictions – but COVID-19 does have an impact on young people and can indeed have devastating effects. We require you to abide by the restrictions and as a UL student to respect the community around you.

Increased Patrols 

In light of increasing concerns about student gatherings in the private housing estates in the vicinity of UL and given the rising number of cases as a result of community transmission, UL is now funding high visibility COVID-19 Garda policing to be carried out amounting to around 310 additional policing hours. Gardai will subsequently increase their patrols each night in both off and on campus residences. 

On the spot fines will be issued for breaches of the regulations detected. A €100 fine can be issued for anyone leaving their home without a reasonable excuse, while a €500 fine can be issued to anyone arranging an event such as a house party, and €150 fines can be issued to anyone attending a house party. 

On Campus Testing 

Registration for the FREE on-campus COVID-19 tests for UL students will close at 12noon tomorrow.  

No symptoms required.  No requirement for a PPS number. 

We are encouraging everyone in the vicinity of the UL campus to avail of the free tests and if you tested negative in the past number of weeks do not assume you are clear, please register for a repeat test. 

Registration for a COVID-19 test is open and will remain open for bookings until 12:00 noon on Friday 26th February.  

Tests will take place on campus (EGO 10, Main Building) between 10:00am and 6:00pm this week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (25th – 27th February).

Students who register will be given appointment times by Public Health Mid-West by text and should attend only at the appointed time. Students will need to provide an Irish mobile phone number to be notified of a test appointment.  You must wear a mask at all times. All tests will be processed by the HSE and follow-on protocols will be communicated to you by the HSE should you test positive.  

Please do not let your guard down. We are still very much in the middle of this and, while there is pandemic fatigue, we need you all to abide by the public health restrictions.  

Kind regards

Professor Kerstin Mey

Uachtarán / President
Oifig an Uachtaráin / Office of the President

Ollscoil Luimnigh / University of Limerick

Message from UL President Professor Kerstin Mey to students amid rise in COVID-19 infections

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Dear students

COVID-19 cases among UL students living in Limerick are still on the rise.

For this reason UL and Public Health Mid-West are once again facilitating FREE on-campus COVID-19 tests to all UL students.

No symptoms required.  No requirement for a PPS number.

We are encouraging everyone in the vicinity of the UL campus to avail of the free tests and if you tested negative in the past number of weeks do not assume you are clear, please register for a repeat test.

Registration for a COVID-19 test is now open and will remain open for bookings until 12:00 noon on Friday 26th February. Students can register by following the instructions emailed to UL student email accounts.

Tests will take place on campus (EGO 10, Main Building) between 10:00am and 6:00pm this week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (25th – 27th February).

Students who register will be given appointment times by Public Health Mid-West by text and should attend only at the appointed time. Students will need to provide an Irish mobile phone number to be notified of a test appointment.

You must wear a mask at all times. All tests will be processed by the HSE and follow-on protocols will be communicated to you by the HSE should you test positive. 

The UL Student Health Centre is also available to arrange COVID-19 testing if you need to be referred immediately. Contact 061 202 534 to arrange an appointment. 

In the meantime I echo our President’s message that ALL UL STUDENTS should stay at home unless absolutely necessary and should not mix with other households for any reason.  

Please do not let your guard down. We are still very much in the middle of this and while there is pandemic fatigue, we need you all to abide by the public health restrictions.  

Cheers

Nige

Professor Nigel Healey

Interim Provost and Deputy President

/ Vice President Global and Community Engagement

Dear students,

Thanks to those of you who took part in the COVID-19 testing that Public Health Mid-West organised on-campus last weekend. Public Health have identified a number of positive cases and followed up with contact tracing for those infected. The results suggest that the increased transmissibility of the new B117 strain of the virus is leading to significant clusters of infections in shared off-campus housing.

Student COVID-19 case numbers are on the rise. We are at a critical point in the battle against COVID-19 and students have a more critical role than ever in the fight against the transmission of this disease. 

The key issue is that the new variant of COVID-19 means that a single case can lead rapidly to whole households becoming infected. If one member of an affected household visits a friend in another house, the infection quickly spreads to the next household. This means you must stay at home unless absolutely necessary and do not mix with other households for any reason.  

There will be a time when we can come together – but we are not there yet.

We know from the recent testing results that COVID-19 cases are predominantly amongst students living in off-campus private residences in the vicinity of UL. There is growing concern amongst the permanent residents of these estates about these clusters of infection and the risks they pose for older neighbours.

Please do not let your guard down. We are still very much in the middle of this and while there is pandemic fatigue, we need you all to abide by the public health restrictions. I would urge you if you have any symptoms or any concerns at all – to call your GP, to isolate and get a test.

I am sorry to report that some students have been sanctioned by the University since January who have been officially reported, investigated and found to have broken the UL Code of Conduct relating to the current COVID-19 environment. We are bound to take action against students through the code of conduct who, by breaching public health guidelines, may be considered to have engaged in conduct that is harmful to others.

UL will continue to support An Garda Siochana patrols of the off campus estates around UL. A number of students have received sanctions from the gardai ranging from fines to anti-social behaviour notifications.

It is in our power to make a difference here. Please take responsibility for your actions and those you live with to protect the wider community. 

All the best,

Nige

Professor Nigel Healey

Interim Provost and Deputy President

/ Vice President Global and Community Engagement

Dear students

I hope you are keeping well and that you are settling back into your studies.

The University of Limerick has been asked by HSE Mid-West to remind everyone of the necessity to follow all Public Health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While the community incidence of COVID in the Mid-West has plateaued, the HSE are concerned about the emergence of clusters of COVID-19 cases, which risks driving back up community transmission and affecting our families, our grandparents and our friends

To help us pave the way to reopen our society, please can I urge you to:

  • avoid social gatherings and meeting other people
  • practice social distancing
  • wash your hands properly and often
  • cover coughs and sneezes
  • report any symptoms of the virus to your GP immediately

I appreciate that this has been a difficult year but as the roll-out of vaccinations continues, hope is on the horizon and the time will come when we can socialise with our friends once more. Until we reach that time, however, please follow the current Government restrictions.

Cheers

Nige

Professor Nigel Healey

Interim Provost and Deputy President

/ Vice President Global and Community Engagement

Dear students 

The spring semester has now started and I hope you are settling back into your studies. As you know, we have put some additional measures is place this month (January) while Ireland is operating under Level 5 of the Government’s plan for living with COVID-19 and the schools are online. The Government reviewed the public health situation this week and has announced that the current restrictions will continue until at least 5th March, pending another review next month.

Under these restrictions, third level education and research are designated essential activities where they are “…not capable of being delivered through alternative means and are time-critical for students and learners during this period.”  In line with this guidance, the University will be continuing with the measures in place for January, with one modest adjustment in terms of study spaces (see Library & Information Services below).

Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate Students

  • Kemmy Business School and Faculty of Arts Humanities & Social Sciences continue online learning only.
  • Faculty of Science & Engineering and Faculty of Education & Health Sciences continue blended learning mix of online and essential on-campus labs and classes.
  • Travel beyond 5km is only permitted for essential activities.  This includes travel to your term-time accommodation, either in PCC student villages or in local rented accommodation.  Once in Limerick, you should only travel to the campus for scheduled teaching and research activities.
  • Please check the timetable carefully so that you can stay up to date on what face-to face-labs and classes are scheduled.  If your course is not listed on the central timetable, it may be locally scheduled by your department and you should contact your Course Director/Module Leader for further details.
  • You should also check your UL email in case your Course Director/Module Leader has made alternative arrangements for your programme of study.
  • If you have scheduled teaching on-campus, you may remain on campus between classes.

Research Students

  • Only those that absolutely need to be on campus for research purposes, where their activities cannot be undertaken remotely, should be on-site and only for the purpose and duration required to complete the tasks that cannot be done remotely.
  • Communal areas, open plan spaces, rooms for group meetings and multi-occupancy offices should not be used at this time.

Library & Information Services

We are acutely aware of the pressure that final year undergraduate and postgraduate students face in finalising research projects and dissertations.  For this reason, a limited number of independent study spaces in the Library will be available from 8th February. Opening hours will be 09.00-17.00, Monday – Friday. Self-service will replace Click & Collect from February 8th. Pre-booking is essential. Please only visit if absolutely necessary.

Virtual Library

The virtual library remains open:

  • Online library available 24/7
  • Online help – Ask us, chat and subject guides
  • Online  skills classes
  • Online access to Special Collection

E-resources and Reading Lists

The acquisition of e-resources for reading lists continue to be prioritised. Please send requirements for this semester as soon as possible.

Further information on the library website https://www.ul.ie/library/

We continue to liaise and work with An Garda Siochána to remind all of you, particularly those living in student accommodation in and around our campus, of your personal responsibility to follow government and institutional guidelines and to be aware of the consequences of breaking current government COVID-19 restrictions.

Kind Regards,

Nige

Professor Nigel Healey

Interim Provost and Deputy President

/ Vice President Global and Community Engagement

 

Dear colleagues and students - 

Ireland is now operating under Level 5 of the Government’s plan for living with COVID-19. Under these restrictions, third level education and research are designated essential activities where they are “…not capable of being delivered through alternative means and are time-critical for students and learners during this period.” (Minister Simon Harris).

In line with this guidance and the rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates, the University will be continuing with our existing blended learning model, but with enhanced protective measures for staff and students until at least the end of January, pending a review of the public health restrictions by Government.

Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate Students

  • Semester 2 starts on 25th January.
  • Kemmy Business School and Faculty of Arts Humanities & Social Sciences continue online learning only.
  • Faculty of Science & Engineering and Faculty of Education & Health Sciences continue blended learning mix of online and essential on-campus labs and classes.
  • Travel beyond 5km is only permitted for essential activities. If you do not have scheduled teaching on-campus, you should remain at home and should not travel to Limerick or the UL campus.
  • Timetables will be published during the week of 18th January.  Please check your timetable carefully so that you know what on-campus labs and classes are scheduled for the week commencing 25th January.
  • You are strongly encouraged to check your UL email in case your Course Director/Module Leader has made alternative arrangements for Week 1, commencing 25th January.
  • If you have scheduled teaching on-campus, you may remain on campus between classes, but otherwise all communal study spaces are closed.

Research Students

  • Only those that absolutely need to be on campus for research purposes, where their activities cannot be undertaken remotely, should be on-site and only for the purpose and duration required to complete the tasks that cannot be done remotely.
  • Communal areas, open plan spaces, rooms for group meetings and multi-occupancy offices should not be used at this time.

Library & Information Services

Library & Information Service will continue to provide a range of services including:

  • Online library available 24/7
  • Online help, subject guides and skills classes
  • Click and Collect Service
  • Scanning and Digitising
  • Special Collections and Archives online only

All study spaces will be closed except for students who are between scheduled on-campus classes or labs  and the library building will be closed for physical access from 5:00pm today Monday 11th January. 

All Staff

  • All staff should continue to work from home unless required to be on campus for essential teaching or research or where necessary to prepare/access materials for online classes.

You must wear a face covering in all University buildings and must follow Public Health guidelines that are key to minimising the spread of COVID-19: wash your hands properly and often, practice social distancing, cover coughs and sneezes, and follow the current Government restrictions.

UL Sport Gym, 50m & 25m Pools and all indoor and outdoor facilities including pitches are closed with the exception of facilitating elite high performance training.

The vaccination programme is being rolled out and the end of the pandemic is in sight.  However, the sudden emergence of the new, more transmissible strain means that we once again need to work together to curb the spread of the virus and protect our family, friends and frontline workers.

UL Executive recognises that the closure of schools and childcare will have an impact on some of our staff, particularly those with young children. We understand that the way you arrange your working day may change and that productivity may be impacted, and that you will do your best under the circumstances.

I urge you to take care of yourself. Fitness Classes are currently being delivered online with programme details and booking on the UL Sport App. This approach to working and learning can be isolating. Talk to others and remember that there are a range of support services available to students and staff here in UL.

Kind Regards,

Nige

Professor Nigel Healey

Interim Provost and Deputy President

/ Vice President Global and Community Engagement

Dear Students

We are now slightly over halfway through the autumn semester. As the second wave of COVID-19 infections has built up, we were forced to adjust our academic delivery model in response to changing public health regulations. This has meant less face-to-face engagement for students and staff than we had originally planned. We are working hard with Student Life and the Postgraduate Students Union to learn from your feedback and continuously roll out innovative new ways to enhance staff-student and student-student interaction in the online mode. While COVID-19 continues to limit our physical engagement, we are committed to working with our staff and students to give you the best academic experience possible.

We recognise that every element of our society is facing challenges at the moment. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is difficult for a society that naturally thrives on social contact with other people. But unfortunately this virus also thrives on just that – our physical and social contact with each other and as difficult as it is, we can all individually help to break that contagion chain.

This week the Deputy Chief Medical Officer and the Director of Mid-West Public Health confirmed that there have been a number of cases within the student community in Limerick. There are cases of COVID-19 among you, our students, and we must all work to ensure they don’t spread. In many cases the virus may mean little to no symptoms for one individual and may have devastating consequences for the next. You may not have any evidence of carrying the virus until you infect someone close to you, so the only way to be sure is to restrict contacts and follow the medical advice we are all well versed in at this stage.

This is not easy. Your way of student life has been severely affected but we have all been severely affected by this situation. We must remain individually resolute and responsible and get to the other side of this. There is hope – there is news of vaccines, but they will take some time to reach us. In the meantime, we must pay heed to the advice and make the most of the situation we are in. We are working hard every day to continue to make this experience, which should be the best time of your lives, the best it can be in the middle of a pandemic.

If you will permit me a nod back to my native country, this video was produced by the German Government for students and reminds us of the challenges you face. The message is simple but effective. You have it in your hands to make a difference. 

Kind regards,

Professor Kerstin Mey

Uachtarán / President
Oifig an Uachtaráin / Office of the President

Dear colleagues,

We have been very aware that the UL community has been looking for certainty in relation to our learning model for the rest of the academic year 2020/21.

To this end, the COVID-19 Academic Monitoring and Planning Group (CAMPG) has taken the decision to continue with our current learning model for the remainder of the academic year and I will communicate the detail of this to students in the email below. 

By making this decision early, it will give us greater opportunity to streamline class scheduling and, where possible, we will work to ensure continuity in our online timetables. 

This decision will also be communicated to the public by the three Mid-West Regional Cluster institutions (UL, MIC and LIT), stressing that this approach ensures the continuation of high quality third level education in a way that is in line with the Government's Plan for Living with COVID-19. 

 

Dear students,

I hope you are keeping well and adjusting to this changed academic environment. The COVID-19 Academic Monitoring and Planning Group at UL which includes, faculty members, professional services staff and the leaders of UL Student Life and the UL Postgraduate Student Union (PSU), has been working for some time now on planning and timetabling for the remainder of the academic year 20/21.

The group has been in contact with the Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and our colleagues across the HEI sector in Ireland as well as our partner institutions within the Mid-West Regional Cluster (MWRC) – Mary Immaculate College and Limerick Institute of Technology – in order to establish the best possible model for academic delivery for the rest of the 20/21 academic year, while keeping the health and safety of our student and staff communities a priority consideration. 

In order to provide you with greater certainty and to allow you adequate time for planning, the decision has been taken to continue with the current academic delivery model for the remainder of the academic year 2020/21.  

This will mean that the majority of courses will remain online, minimising on-campus activity to essential on-campus learning activities, including all research activities, lab-based and practical tuition and certain small-scale tutorials that cannot happen online. The current academic delivery arrangements at UL are consistent with the Government’s Plan for Living with COVID.

Should the national public heath guidelines be relaxed later in the academic year, the restoration of additional face-to-face activities will be considered. However, students whose classes are currently wholly online and who have chosen to study remotely will be able to complete their modules online. 

We are acutely aware that some students, especially those new to UL, may be finding it difficult to adjust to online learning and others may be feeling socially isolated.  We are working closely with UL Student Life and the UL PSU to evaluate student feedback and develop improved supports to help you engage with your lecturers and peers, which we will be rolling out in the spring semester. We also have a range of resources available to support you in your online learning and assessment, which have been developed in collaboration with students.  These can be accessed here.

The current academic delivery model, introduced at the start of Semester 1, is intended to ensure that the three MWRC institutions (UL, MIC and LIT) can continue to deliver higher and adult education, deemed nationally essential by the Government, in a way that maintains the quality of the educational experience while protecting the health of students, staff and our wider Mid-West community.

 

Kind regards,

Nige

Professor Nigel Healey

Interim Provost and Deputy President / Vice President Global and Community Engagement

Dear colleagues and students,

From midnight on Wednesday 21 October, Ireland moved to Level 5 of Ireland’s Plan for Living with Covid-19.

Minister Harris has issued a statement on the implications of Level 5 for the third level sector and he pays tribute to staff and students. He also makes it clear that while campus accommodation will remain open, no visitors are permitted and students are asked to remain and exercise within the 5-kilometre limit and not to receive visitors or visit other households.

Professor Nigel Healey has communicated to you that we would continue to offer the majority of our courses online. All essential face-to-face learning activities will continue as scheduled on campus including lab-based, clinical placements and practical tuition and certain small-scale tutorials that cannot happen online. This will be our approach until the end of Semester 1 and is in compliance with Level 5 restrictions.

As previously indicated, Timetables for all students have been updated online for Weeks 6 to 12.

If you are engaged in research and can do your work remotely, you should take this approach but all research activities that need to happen on campus should continue as permitted essential activity. The library will remain open by appointment only with a focus on providing online resources and assistance.

I would like to echo the words of our Minister in expressing thanks to our hugely committed staff for their dedication in this difficult and uncertain time. And to our students for their commitment to learning, while dealing with the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.

Kind regards,

Professor Kerstin Mey

Uachtarán / President
Oifig an Uachtaráin / Office of the President