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Return to Campus Working

Under the Government’s plan to reopen society, third level education and research are defined as “essential activities”. In line with the plan for A safe return to on-site further and higher education and research published by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS), we want to ensure that all students receive as full and engaging an on-campus learning experience as possible this academic year. To achieve this, it is important for business continuity and a vibrant campus environment for staff and students to have a mix of academic and professional support, administrative and service staff onsite as required.

The health of our staff and students is our first priority and Public Health guidelines inform all of our decisions. For this reason, we will continue to follow the current procedures for safely managing our return to work. Line managers with staff who are required to work on campus for the new academic year will need to complete the Business Response Plan, identifying which staff will be working in which locations, so that Buildings and Estates ((B&E) and Health and Safety (H&S) can undertake appropriate risk assessments.


All staff whose department/unit’s Business Response Plan has been approved may return to the campus from 30 August 2021.

Once your area’s Covid-19 Business Response Plan is approved, you will be sent an online Pre-Return to Work form. Where no issues are identified in the Pre-Return form, you will be approved to return to work on campus.

The New Academic Year Guide for Staff has a detailed list of FAQs covering these topics. It is located in the Return to Campus Working folder on the COVID-19 SharePoint site, which is only accessible to UL staff. 

Before you return to campus working, you will need to complete the COVID-19 Staff Awareness training programme. This will be arranged by your line-manager.

A link to the internal Covid-19 Sharepoint site has been shared with all staff which contains additional documentation and information that you may require.

Yes, face coverings must be worn in all University buildings, including but not exclusively shared and open plan office spaces, teaching spaces, labs, research areas and corridors. 

If you are in a single occupancy office, you do not have to wear a face covering in your office. A face covering must be worn each time you leave your office and if you receive a visitor to your office. Staff are encouraged to conduct meetings online or via telephone in lieu of face-to-face meetings, 

  1. Ensure you are wearing a face covering when entering the lecture theatre /classroom,
  2. Confirm that the windows are open if windows are provided in the area,
  3. Advise students on the sanitisation products available for use,
  4. Conduct sanitation of the lectern area as required,
  5. Remain at 2m distance during the lecture.

A lecturer may remove their face covering in a teaching and learning environment where all of the following apply:

  1. They are actively delivering a teaching session,
  2. They are >2m from students and can maintain this distance throughout,
  3. They are comfortable to do so, and
  4. Delivering the session without a face covering would mean an enhanced pedagogical experience.

If you are in a teaching or lab space that does not allow for the 2m distance from students,you should continue to wear a face covering.

Any student who may have an impairment that could hinder their participation in face-to-face classes where a lecturer needs to wear a face covering because these criteria cannot be met, should notify their course director and a solution will be found. This may involve the provision of existing lecture material, the replacement of the lecturer’s face-covering with a face-shield, the use of amplification or another solution. Face-shields are also used by staff where necessary on specific courses e.g., Speech and Language Therapy.

If you have a student in your lectures or labs who refuses to wear a face covering or, for medical reasons, a face shield, you should ask them to leave or suspend the class. staff and students are expected to follow Public Health guidelines to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Preventing the transmission of COVID-19 can only be achieved on a cooperative basis with shared responsibility between staff, students and University management.

As a matter of course you should:

  • Not attend work if you are feeling unwell or displaying any COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Washing your hands properly and often.
  • Observe social distancing guidelines indicated by signage on campus.
  • Wear a face covering in all University buildings unless in a single occupancy office.
  • You are reminded to use natural ventilation (open windows) whenever possible. 

In accordance with our COVID-19 Prevention and Control measures, University of Limerick will electronically issue a Pre-Return to Work Form for approved staff to complete at least 3 days in advance of their return to work on campus.  Through this staff members must declare if they believe that they are at high risk/very high risk of COVID-19. Please refer to the HSE guidelines for more information.

The University’s Occupational Health service may be consulted for employees in the very high risk category, or to determine if an employees falls into this category. Where possible, employees deemed to be very high risk will be facilitated to work from home. However, if working from home in their current role is not feasible, then they may be assigned work outside their usual core duties/given a new role.

The HSE is carrying out contact tracing of all individuals who may have come into casual or close contact with a diagnosed patient. You will only be contacted directly by the HSE if you fall into this category. You will be advised by the HSE on what actions to take. Please notify your course director or your line manager if you have been contacted by HSE and have been medically certified to self-isolate.

If you test positive for COVID 19 you are asked to notify UL at as soon as possible with the date you were last on campus and when you were diagnosed. Your details may be used to initiate early contact tracing and the provision of health advice. Records will be deleted by UL after 30 days.

The HSE sets out the latest criteria for restricted movements following close contact here 

Special leave with pay does not apply to employees who are required to restrict their movements as a precaution as they are not ill. If remote working in an employee’s current role is not feasible, then the assignment of work may be outside of their usual core duties. Employees must cooperate with all such flexibilities while they are restricting their movements. In all such cases, employees remain available for work whilst at home, where they have been advised to restrict their movements as a precautionary measure.

On the basis of business needs, department heads and managers should identify the employees whose roles require them to attend the work premises. The University is working to implement measures to ensure the safety of the workplace for all employees, as provided for in the Return to Work Safely Protocol. High risk employees should attend the work premises and, in accordance with HSE advice, employees in the high risk category should take extra care to practice social distancing where possible and wash their hands regularly and properly. Appropriate measures may need to be considered for employees in the high risk category in the work premises where maintaining social distancing is difficult. See more here

Employees who live with very high risk individuals should attend the work premises and should follow the HSE guidelines to protect themselves and to minimise risk of transmission. The implementation of the Return to Work Safely Protocol is intended to minimize the risk of transmission in the workplace. See more here.

In line with DPER directive, public service employers should not pay a daily allowance to their employees in respect of WFH. It is open to employees to make claims directly from Revenue in respect of actual costs incurred in working from home at the end of the relevant tax year, in accordance with the relevant tax laws. Any claim in this regard is solely a matter for the individual concerned. Further details for individuals on how to claim expenses on tax returns are available on the webpage.

The Learning Technology Forum website is home to a variety of resources such as recorded webinars, a repository of resources on creating online content, programme/module design, student engagement and more, along with a calendar of CPD events on offer.  

For help and advice on installing remote learning software or accessing IT services remotely, please visit the ITD Helpdesk.