News

Message from IT Carlow President, Dr Patricia Mulcahy to staff and students

07/01/2021

Dear Colleagues and Students

We know the epidemiological profile of COVID-19 has deteriorated substantially across our country in recent weeks and last night An Taoiseach detailed additional measures to existing Level 5 restrictions that must now be introduced in the ongoing effort to safeguard public health. 

The Minister for the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science also issued a statement last night.  The full detail of this can be accessed at https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/40e4b-minister-harris-confirms-further-restriction-of-onsite-third-level-activity-in-response-to-deteriorating-covid-situation/

The Minister in his statement emphasised that we must all ‘play our part’ and that “during the immediate period ahead, third level institutions and providers will again adapt and use their existing discretion to restrict onsite attendance further, only allowing the most essential work to take place onsite. Local assessment will focus on activities that are not capable of being delivered through alternative means and are time-critical for students and learners during this period.”

I write to confirm the arrangements that will apply to all staff and students of Institute of Technology Carlow as and from midnight tonight until the 31st January 2021. 

It is envisaged that these additional measures should be short-term, that they will protect the health and well-being of all in our community at this critical juncture in this pandemic, and that they will contribute to the national imperative for bringing this disease under control.  Please be assured that the situation will be kept under continuous review and every effort will be made to restore additional essential on-campus delivery as soon as is safely possible after this three-week period. 

I now confirm the following for the next three weeks after consultation with the Heads of Faculties, Departments, Campuses and Heads of Professional Support Services:

  • Online Examinations and Alternative Assessments:  These will proceed for all fulltime and lifelong learning students as previously advised.  Full details can be found at the following link, https://www.itcarlow.ie/study/admissionssupport/exam-info.htm 
  • Lectures:  All lectures will continue to be delivered online at the times indicated on current student and staff timetables.
  • Laboratory and Studio:  Laboratory and studio sessions or additional theory classes will be conducted primarily online at the times indicated on current student and staff timetables.  If some specific activities are deemed essential and time-critical for students and learners, and can only take place on campus, every effort will be made to accommodate these.  Faculty or Campus offices will be in contact to advise of any such necessary arrangements.
  • Apprentices:  Apprenticeship programmes will continue to be delivered as planned in consultation with SOLAS and the Department for FHERIS.
  • Postgraduate Researchers:  Postgraduate researchers will be facilitated on-campus for essential research work only that necessitates on-campus facilities or equipment on a rostered basis to enable them to continue with essential practical and laboratory-based experimental work.  Research projects will be prioritised in accordance with the Institute’s Policy and Procedures “Guidelines for Return of Researchers to Campus”.  Strict adherence to the mitigating measures already in place will be required and this will be overseen /coordinated by our Covid Response Team (CRT) for Researchers.
  • Campus Libraries: Library Services will continue to be available online in conjunction with the click-and-collect service. For more information see libguides.itcarlow.ie/return.
  • Professional Support Staff: Continuity of essential services by our professional support staff will necessitate on-site presence in a limited capacity.  Managers will put these arrangements in place.
  • Broadband Connectivity: Every effort will be made to safely accommodate staff and students on-campus who may face additional challenges related to suboptimal broadband provision in their home environment.  Such requests should, in the first instance, come via their line manager or our Student Services Department, respectively.

It may be necessary for Departments and Campuses to make some modifications to timetables as we implement these new temporary arrangements. Faculty or Campus offices will be in contact to advise of any such necessary changes.

I reiterate our continued commitment to ensuring that our students will not be disadvantaged at the point of assessment or incur financial penalties associated with repeat assessment.  Measures are already in place to deliver on this commitment within the context of continuing to protect the academic integrity and standards of awards, and we will continue to work closely with the Student Union Executive in this regard.

I remind everyone of the comprehensive range of online student supports and services available as our online provision increases further under these enhanced public health measures.  Please note that the student Laptop Loan Scheme remains open for new applications.  Full details can be found at itcarlow.ie/student-life/student-services/access-itcarlow.htm. Funded by the Government of Ireland, the scheme is aimed at enabling students to access laptops for hybrid learning. 

Our website detailing our ongoing response to this pandemic is updated regularly and can be accessed at the following link: itcarlow.ie/return-to-campus-2021.htm.  Any staff or student member whose presence on campus is deemed essential is required to complete the new Return to Campus Declaration forms for 2021 (itcarlow.ie/return-to-campus-2021/procedures-forms-and-training-for-staff.htm or blackboard for student declaration forms) and to complete the online Induction Training which has been updated in line with the most current public health advice. 

Despite the challenges posed by this pandemic since the start of this academic year, our staff and students have continuously adapted to new ways of teaching, learning and research to keep programme delivery on-track across all disciplines.  I appreciate that it hasn’t been easy for students and staff alike and that we all wish it were different.  Getting our country immunised is crucial for dealing with this pandemic, but in the days and weeks to come we do need to double down on the proven control measures of reducing contacts, wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing and avoiding congregation in all settings. I ask once again for your full commitment and cooperation with these measures as we continue to not only prioritise your health and wellbeing, but also ensure continuity of learning so that our students can progress and graduate this year. 

Everyone continues to be impacted by this crisis and I thank you most sincerely for the ongoing commitment and goodwill that is so evident across our community. 

My best wishes to you and your families. 

Yours sincerely
Patricia Mulcahy