Students will return to ‘near normal’ college experience in September

Students Will Return To ‘Near Normal’ College Experience In September Students Will Return To ‘Near Normal’ College Experience In September
People walk around the grounds of Trinity College Dublin on March 12th, 2020. Photo: Getty Images.
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By James Ward, PA

Students will return to a “near normal” third-level experience when colleges reopen in September, Professor Philip Nolan said.

Prof Nolan, a public health expert and president of Maynooth University, said some mitigations such as mask wearing and distancing measures will remain.

Ireland will have 90 per cent of its adult population fully vaccinated by mid-September, an “extraordinary achievement” that will offer “very high levels of protection”, he said.


“It is a priority for us as citizens, as advisers, as educators to reopen schools and to allow students to return to a near-normal third level experience,” he said.

“It won’t be fully normal, we’ll be using masks as an important mitigation.

“There will be some really large classes that will remain online, largely to slightly reduce the number of students on campus on any given day.


“But personally, I’m really looking forward to seeing students again in person, to teaching them in person.

“I taught online for the last two years, and it worked.

“But it’s simply not the same as being able to see and interact with the people you’re talking to.”


Vaccinations are currently being administered to the 12 to 15-year-old cohort, with around half of the 280,000 children in the age category having registered for a vaccine.

Prof Nolan said it was “always expected” that take up would be lower in those age categories, as parents weigh up the risks and benefits of vaccinating their children.

“We strongly encourage it. The risks are very low and the benefits very significant” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“But we always anticipated that it would be a slower process for 12 to 16-year-olds to take up the vaccination.

“The important thing is we’re seeing this extraordinary high level of uptake in the adult population, and in the population over 16.”

'On track to exceed expectations'

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), of which Prof Nolan is a member, meets on Wednesday to consider its latest advice to Government ahead of the publication of a road map for the lifting of further pandemic restrictions next week.


Prof Nolan said the high level of vaccination means a plan will be needed for the formal lifting of restrictions, but said “low cost measures” such as mask wearing and self-isolating could remain.

He said: “In public health terms the advice is what the advice always has been, that we need to achieve very high levels of vaccination protection in the population, and we are achieving that.

“We are absolutely on track to exceed our expectations.

Restrictions will fall away

“We need to ensure the level of disease in the population is under control and we need to strongly advise people.

“Restrictions will fall away, so we have to prepare a plan with that high level of vaccine protection to, over time, remove those remaining kind of formal restrictions that are upon us.

“But we will need to retain in place those very basic low cost measures, and a fundamental shift in our behaviour.

“If you have the symptoms of this disease, you self-isolate and you don’t in any way run the risk of infecting another person.”

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