Wednesday, 14 July 2021
Department of Education and Skills
Adult Education Provision
280. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when a return of in-house, classroom learning for adult education providers can be allowed under the current guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31009/21]
The Government has committed to a significant increase in onsite attendance in the tertiary education sector in the next academic year.
Following consultation with sectoral stakeholders and on following Government approval, the Minister published A Safe Return: Plan for a safe return to on-site Further and Higher Education and Research in 2021/22.
The Plan reflects the essential nature of higher and further education and training, and research activities, and in that context, provides for comprehensive on-site activity for the next academic year, with almost full scale on-site activities.
Under the Plan, the safety measures which will be in place such as social distancing, face masks, ventilation will be in accordance with prevailing public health advice taking into account the essential nature of further and higher education and research. Institutions and providers will continue to put in place plans to ensure that the overall number of people on campus at a given time continues to be moderated.
Contingency planning, based on a more restrictive public health environment, is also being prepared by the sector. Even in a more restrictive public health environment, it is envisaged that there would still be significant on-site activities. At a very minimum, workshops, tutorials, classroom based activities and smaller lectures will be allowed and libraries, research facilities and labs will be opened.
Further and higher education institutions and providers are enabling provision during the summer period, which includes the resumption of research activity. This is to be managed in line with the discretionary framework to do so and the prevailing public health advice. This will provide an experiential basis for institutions and providers in organising and managing the safe return of students and learners on-site in the autumn through initially modest and manageable levels of provision.