Aug 27, 2021

One-Metre Social Distancing to be Implemented for Lectures

College has said it is taking a two-phased approach to re-opening campus, with further easing of restrictions planned from November 1st.

Emer MoreauEditor
Alex Connolly for The University Times

In-person lectures, lab sessions and tutorials will take place with one-metre social distancing from September, College has said.

Students will no longer need to show proof of a library or study space booking to come on campus, and will not be asked to leave campus once their classes have finished.

Front Gate will re-open on September 6th but campus will not be open to the public “for the moment”.


An email to students and staff from provost Linda Doyle today said, “I know many of you will be disappointed that we are starting out with caution and you may rightly ask why we are being more cautious than some other institutions”.

“I feel that the document outlines a balance between the desire for more on-campus experiences with the need to ensure the health and wellbeing of our community”, she added.

The document circulated to staff and students today said that Trinity will be taking a two-phased approach to the return to in-person activity. Masks will be required in lectures, labs and tutorials but lecturers, when teaching, will not have to wear one. They will, however, maintain a two-metre distance from students.

“In line with Government expectations, and the pact the sector signed, we must ensure that every student has some kind of regular in-person learning experience. There is no hard and fast definition of what this means.”

“It is hugely important we maximise the in-person experience in every way we can, especially as a number of other institutions will start the academic year with no social distancing in lectures.”

Timetabled events should finish 15 minutes to the hour to allow for changeover. Some 400 teaching spaces are currently being assessed for ventilation guidance. The Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning guidance is 10 litres/second per person.

“By September 6th a notice will be posted outside each of these rooms confirming that this guidance has been met”, the document said.

Trinity’s libraries will retain two-metre social distancing and masks will still be required. The time limit of an hour and 45 minutes will also remain. “We do not have the same leeway under public health guidelines for libraries as we have with teaching and learning spaces”, the email said, adding that retaining the time limit will “help maximise the number of students who can be accommodated”.

On general campus access, the document said: “The main message here is that campus will be open to all staff and students.”

“Students will not need to have proof of a Library or study space booking to come on campus. We will not be insisting students leave campus once lectures/labs/tutorials are finished.”

“We do encourage staff to continue work from home, where agreed or required and where appropriate. Staff and students will need to swipe in and out of college.”

The Book of Kells will be monitored to ensure “smooth functioning” but campus will not re-open to the general public “for the moment”.

“We do intend to open Front Gate on September 6th.”

The document said that College intends to further ease restrictions from November 1st to allow for more in-person activity, but “these statements of course come with the caveat that constraints can be relaxed provided trends in infection rates, vaccine up-take and public health guidelines are all pointing in the right direction”.

Trinity is taking a two-phased approach due to the “compact and contained” nature of the campus, the space limitations of older buildings and lecture theatres and the fact that residential rooms are scattered across campus.

“We believe indoor social-distancing must, for now, continue to a part of our planned return, so we can ensure that our staff and students are safe”, the document said.

“In coming to this conclusion, we have drawn on the expertise in the university and our public health, clinical, science, and safety experts support this approach. I believe they have stood us well thus far and their expertise is the kind of expertise that allowed us to have safe and rewarding in-person graduations, when no other institution was doing so.”

“We understand that we are not yet at the peak of the current wave of infections. While predictions are not always accurate, a peak is expected over the next month. This means the more cautious approach would coincide with the peak of infections and allow us to adjust after Reading Week to provide more in-person experiences.”

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