Peter Donnelly, Editor
On Wednesday, 14th October the Northern Ireland Executive published their latest region-wide Covid-19 restrictions, including the advice that all but absolutely necessary physical teaching at universities and colleges be moved online.
The NI Executive statement, issued by the First Minister in the NI Assembly advised that “Universities deliver distance learning to the maximum extent possible with only essential face to face learning where that is a necessary and unavoidable part of the course.”
The hospitality also took a notable hit from these latest announcements, with many restaurant and puemises closing for a four week period.
It was an undoubtedly unfortunate development, particularly for students who just commenced their studies in September but one which was absolutely necessary. The Covid pandemic is probably the closest thing to war which most of us have experienced in our lifetimes.
On Wednesday evening, 14th October, the Queen’s Communication Office released the following statement, from Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Greer, to QUB students and staff:
“The University has taken the decision to revert to online delivery of teaching for the rest of semester unless face-to-face is considered essential or unavoidable. The University has prepared for this eventuality so you should remain assured that we have the appropriate plans in place to allow your studies to continue and will adopt measures to minimise any detriment to your learning outcomes.
The University remains commited to face to face teaching and current evidence shows that this can be delivered safely so we plan for the resumption of face to face teaching as soon as possible.
For research students, we plan to continue to conduct research on campus that can not be done remotely. Other research that can be done from home should continue on that basis.”
Queen’s University Faculties and Schools have communicated their respective arrangements for future lectures, tutorials and seminars. Follwing the NI Executive’s latest Covid guidance, Queen’s has advised that the majority of teaching be continued online for the remainder of the first semester, from Monday 19th October. The hybrid or blended approach will be phased out from then. Announcements for specific course modules have been and will continue to be communicated via Canvas by module conveners.
The University is not closing as it did back in March.
It is understood that Universities across Northern Ireland, the UK and the Republic of Ireland have adopted similar measures. The University of Ulster is adopting the same measures with regard to online/virtual teaching.
A range of faciltities on and in the surrounding area of the Queen’s campus will be remaining open over the four week period. These include:
- The Student Guidance Centre, off University Road (including the Student Wellbeing Service)
- The Physical Education Centre (PEC) for individual exercise and training
- The McClay Library
- The Graduate School
- The Main Site Tower
- The Student’s Union, off Elmood Avenue (including Student Representatives, Clubs and Societies, Queen’s Radio & The Gown.)
Student Societies are continuing to operate online. The Debating Society, Literific, President Matt Leigh told The Gown on Saturday, 17th October, that the next event will be held this coming Thursday, 22nd October, “with a virtual audience for the next four weeks.”
The position of QUB Sports teams has still not been clarified.
Information for QUB students on the developing Covid-19 situation as it concerns the University is available at the following link – https://www.qub.ac.uk/home/coronavirus-faqs/information-for-students/
The updated restrictions are available to consult on the NI Direct Government website: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you
Guidance on instructions to follow if you or someone else in your household is showing symptoms of Coronavirus on the NI Health and Social Care Trust’s Public Health Agency website, with directions to ‘Test and Trace’ centres around Belfast and countrywide areas – https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus and from the NHS website – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Contact details of general support groups:
- Inspire – (24/7 helpline – Freephone) – 0808 800 0016 (Wellbeing Support)
- Lifeline – (24/7 helpline – Freephone) – 0808 808 8000
- Samaritans – 116 123 (national line) or 028 9066 4422 (Belfast)
- Emergency Services – 999 / Police Non-Emergency – 101
The Queen’s Student Guidance Centre offer a Drop In Service online. You can contact them by phoning 07387 546 123.
Further information on the health and safety measures adopted by Queen’s University are available at https://www.qub.ac.uk/coronavirus/.
More strenuous restrictions are being introduced right across Ireland and Britain.
On Monday, 12th October, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the central government’s three-tier system for areas on England. As of Saturday, 17th October, around 12 million people across England will be under these latest so-called circuitbreaker measures.
Should you feel that there is an issue you wish to address regarding the latest Covid-19 situation please contact us on our email – email@example.com or alternatively the Editor, Peter Donnelly on 07568323741.
Team Gown asks students from all of our universities to stay safe and healthy and to look out for one another, with that strong community spirit, Northern Ireland is renowned for.