Trinity has said that the upcoming assessment period will involve a mix of in-person and online exams.
College is working on contingency plans for students who have to self isolate when they are due to sit an exam in person, but for now, no major changes to assessment timetables are planned as public health advice for universities is “unlikely to change”.
Concerns over rising coronavirus case numbers in Ireland have led to uncertainty in recent days about the feasibility of a mass return to in-person exam sessions.
Exam sittings in the RDS Simmonscourt will be limited to 60 per cent capacity of the venue, or a maximum of 1,600 students at a time, with a maximum of two sessions per day.
Exams will take place in both the RDS and various campus venues for small groups and individuals.
In an email to students this afternoon, Vice Provost Orla Shiels and Senior Lecturer David Shepherd said: “The rising COVID numbers are a concern for us all here at Trinity. We are closely monitoring public health advice and are in contact with the other universities to explore all options to try to minimise the impact on individual students.”
Some 30,139 exams will take place in Trinity this semester, the email said. Of these exam sittings, 17,443 are online and 12,696 are due to be in person.
“Past experience has shown us that flexible and creative solutions are possible and that we can work together to overcome the current uncertainties”, Shiels and Shepherd said. “Our aim is to work through final issues over the coming days and we will be in touch early next week with specific information about plans for in-person exams.”
“We will also be looking at capacity on campus for students who are experiencing problems with wifi at home and are being asked to do exams online.”
Labour Senator Annie Hoey has said today that she wrote to Minister for Education Simon Harris to clarify whether exams will be in-person or online, in light of the recent increase in case numbers.
In a press statement, Hoey said: “There is growing concern in further and higher education institutions about the holding of exams in the traditional exam hall style rather than online.”
“Guidance is urgently needed so that students and examiners alike can know that they are safe during this period”, she added. “The Department must publish updated recommended guidelines for student exams this Christmas. We must be assured that we are doing everything we can to protect further and higher education students and staff.”