Aug 17, 2021

College Scraps Time Limit for Labs and Practicals

Trinity said in February that indoor activities could only go on for an hour and 45 minutes to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Jody DruceDeputy News Editor
Ivan Rakhmanin for The University Times

College has scrapped the time limit of one hour and 45 minute for laboratories and practicals.

Two lecturers in the faculty of science, technology, engineering and maths have confirmed to The University Times that a time limit will no longer be imposed on laboratory sessions.

Trinity Media Relations Officer Catherine O’Mahony subsequently confirmed to this newspaper that this rule will no longer be implemented.


College enacted the time limit for in-person indoor events in February.

The policy was an effort to reduce the number of close contacts, which the HSE defines as those sharing an indoor space for more than two hours with someone when one has tested positive for coronavirus.

The time limit resulted in the sudden cancellation of lab practicals for chemical sciences students, a move which was later staunchly criticised by staff in the School of Chemistry.

Students were previously able to book long periods in the library but, due to the change, had to limit their sessions in any given seat to one hour and 45 minutes.

In a College-wide email last week, students were told that lectures with more than 150 people would continue to be held online for now.

Chief Operating Officer Orla Cunningham and Director of College Health David McGrath said: “When term starts on 13 September (or 27 September for first years), students are permitted on campus for any timetabled (in-person) events that they are involved in.”

“Large lectures above 150 will continue to be online. For lectures between 50 and 150 Schools have discretion as to whether they should be in-person or online. Students who have no timetabled in-person events on a given day will be requested not to attend the campus to manage overall campus capacity”, they said.

The email did not say how long large lectures would continue to take place virtually.

“Guidance for Orientation Weeks will be finalised and issued once the Public Health Guidelines for that period have been issued by government.”

“Trinity is preparing for a return to campus with increased on-site activity and in-person teaching in line with the Discretionary Framework A Safe Return to On-Site Further and Higher Education and Research which the Higher Education sector agreed with government. The Framework’s clear intention is for a ‘predominately on-site learning experience for students and learners’ for the year 2021/22”, the email added.

In an Instagram Live Q and A with Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Leah Keogh, the provost said that College was waiting for the government to issue guidelines on what kind of in-person activities will be allowed to take place in the coming academic year.

“We will still have, for the moment, big lectures online, but we’ve signed a pact with all of the universities and institutions in Ireland, about the safe return to on campus education, and it will be the case that everyone will have some in person experience”, she said.

Students will not have the option to dial into lectures remotely if they are taking place in person, Doyle added, but provisions will be made on a case-by-case basis for students who cannot attend physical classes.

Lecturers are being encouraged to record in-person lectures so “everyone can have access to it”, but it’s not the case that you can say: “Okay I want to do this one in person I want to do this one online”, she said.

Correction: August 18th, 2021.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the limit of one hour and 45 minutes applied to all in-person events. In fact, College has only scrapped this time limit for laboratory sessions and practicals.

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