Written answers

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Covid-19 Pandemic

Photo of Peadar TóibínPeadar Tóibín (Meath West, Aontú)
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235. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to a cluster of Covid-19 cases in NUI Galway in the past two weeks of September 2020; and if a rise in Covid-19 cases in NUI Galway had any bearing on the decision by his Department in September 2020 to move learning in universities online for two weeks. [30419/20]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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On 18 September the Higher and Further Education system in Dublin committed to minimise on-site teaching and learning, in light of the deteriorating disease situation in the county.

On 25 September the Acting Chief Medical Officer requested that consideration now be given to the introduction of similar measures to those introduced in Dublin for all HEIs nationwide to ensure safe continuation or recommencement of activities across the country.

This reflected concerns in relation to the potential impact of recommencement of campus higher education programmes on the epidemiological situation in light of emerging evidence from the UK where institutions have already re-opened and significant issues in the US when programmes recommenced there during the summer.

My Department is aware of the cluster of cases referred to by the Deputy. I am continuously engaging with my officials on this and am assured the public health guidance developed by the sector was followed. However. the introduction of the enhanced protective measures was not in response to a particular situation in any HEI, but was rather a preventative measure taken in light of the increasing number of cases nationwide.

I am aware of the cluster of cases referred to by the Deputy, but the introduction of the enhanced protective measures was not in response to a particular situation in any HEI, but was rather a preventative measure taken in light of the increasing number of cases nationwide.

This request was accepted by the relevant institutions and the enhanced protective measures are now in place in all Higher Education Institutions in the State.

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