Students living in Trinity’s accommodation – including campus, Halls, Binary Hub and Kavanagh Court – must vacate their accommodation this week and stay home “until notified otherwise”, the College announced tonight.
At least eight people in Trinity have now tested positive for the coronavirus, and only students who meet specific criteria are permitted to remain in Trinity’s accommodation beyond this week, according to an email sent to all staff and students.
The measures mark a dramatic escalation in the steps Trinity is taking to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The email – signed by Provost Patrick Prendergast, Head of Accommodation Neal Murphy, Registrar of Chambers Philip Coleman and Roja Fazaeli, the warden of Trinity Hall – says Trinity student residents living in Ireland must return home from tomorrow at 8pm, “and stay at home until notified otherwise”.
Students living overseas, the email states, should aim to leave their Trinity accommodation by 5pm this Wednesday, March 18th.
Students can stay on campus if they face homelessness, have the virus or are self-isolating, have a family member with the virus, have immigration or visa restrictions, have extremely limited internet connectivity in their home, or are conducting research on campus for a PhD.
Those remaining on campus must notify College by March 19th, after which they will be locked out of their accommodation. “We’re taking these steps so that we have a clear picture of who remains on campus”, Prendergast, Coleman, Murphy and Fazaeli wrote.
Residents must take all their belongings with them, the email states. Students who had vacated their accommodation on a temporary basis without removing their belongings must clear out by 6pm this Friday, March 20th.
Students on campus and in Halls will be compensated on a pro rata basis for their early exit from accommodation. College says it will “offer full support” to students living in Binary Hub and Kavanagh Court – privately owned luxury student accommodation complexes that have agreements with Trinity – if they pursue compensation.
The decision, Trinity says, “has been taken because large, highly concentrated numbers of students living on campus will increase the chance of rapid transmission of the coronavirus”.
In the email – which acknowledges that the situation “will be distressing” for those leaving campus tomorrow – Prendergast, Coleman, Murphy and Fazaeli added: “We are very sorry to have to take this action. We know it will be difficult for some of you but the situation is serious and it is vital to take drastic action now for your own safety and well-being and also to minimize the transmission rate of the virus as quickly as possible.”
Yesterday, The University Times reported that a student who travelled with Dublin University Surf Club had tested positive for the virus – then the fifth confirmed Trinity case. Members of the club are currently self-isolating.
Elsewhere, this newspaper reported that SIPTU has called on Trinity to row back on its decision to call catering and housekeeping staff into College, arguing there is no “credible justification” for keeping them in work.
In a letter sent to the College on Friday morning, obtained by The University Times, Karl Byrne, SITPU’s higher education sector organiser, referenced a directive from the Department of Education he said “clearly states that Higher Education Institutes are closed for students and only remain open for on line delivery or essential services such as pay roll”.
“In light of the unprecedented Health Crisis all other staff are being asked to work from home in order to reduce social interactions”, Byrne added.
“There can be no credible justification”, he said, for classifying housekeeping, catering and other general operative-related grades “as ‘essential services’ in the midst of this Health Crisis”.