Throughout third level colleges and universities, campuses are prepared to reopen, having installed the facilities required for monitoring, hygiene and social distancing, and with all campuses implementing capacity controls. Staff and students have received instructions on how to return to college/university in September, as agreed with campus management, or as timetabled by student programme coordinators. Campuses throughout Ireland have invested in, and are prepared for dual delivery of course material in the expectation that students will be onsite for approximately 50% of ‘normal pre-pandemic’ term time.
Colleges are also considering different scenarios in the event that government restrictions might escalate in the future, and have planned for continuity of all support services, academic and other, both remotely and in person, which will allow an agile response to any changes in HSE advice/Government instruction. For any worried students, further updates are being emailed directly to student participants on a regular basis. It is vital that students continue to keep checking Moodle, Blackboard and their college email.
Returning Students / New Students in September 2021 are advised to:
Continue to observe best practice in protecting themselves from COVID-19, and in limiting the possibility of spreading infection:
- Hand washing properly and regularly
- Covering mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing and sneezing
- Observe social distancing
- Wear a face covering on public transport and in spaces where social distancing is not possible
- Wear a face mask on campus
Visit the HSE website for the most up-to-date and accurate information.
As part of each college/university’s commitment to provide a safe return to campus for staff and students, some physical changes have been implemented and new protocols are in place.
It is anticipated that access to buildings will be limited and only in accordance with scheduled academic activity. Please keep yourself informed of any updates to protocols through your college/university website, Moodle and your student email.
Supports for returning to Campus
Should any student feel anxious or worried about returning to college in a COVID 19 environment, please consult the World Health Organisation ‘Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide’ which is a very useful stress management guide for coping with adversity.
During this period of uncertainty, it’s especially important that we mind our mental health and take time out to practise self-care and do things that we enjoy or find relaxing.
Study (‘Depression, anxiety and stress among undergraduate students during COVID-19 outbreak and “home-quarantine” Shaher H. Hamaideh, Hanan Al-Modallal, Mu’ath Tanash, Ayman Hamdan-Mansour) findings indicate that mental health is a core component of well-being. University students suffer moderate levels of depression, anxiety and stress, inferring that during quarantine periods university students are vulnerable to serious mental illnesses if no appropriate interventions are indicated.
Faculty members and administrators with in the college campus are available to provide appropriate psychological support for any student experiencing mental health difficulties.
Tips for returning to campus and minding your mental health:
- Manage anxiety by sticking to a routine. Get up and dressed at a time you normally would when going to college, even on those days you are studying from home. Oversleeping may cause sluggish feelings and you may be less productive.
- A basic timetable will keep you busy and on track. Make sure to schedule social interaction and exercise
- Get fresh air and physical activity on a regular basis.
- While it’s important to stay informed and keep up-to-date with what’s happening around the world, continuous scrolling on social media isn’t helpful and can negatively impact mental health. Take regular social media breaks.
- Put your phone away for periods during the day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. If working on your laptop, don’t have news/social media open on it all day, dip in and close them again.
- It is hugely important to make sure that the accounts you follow on social media are a positive influence and aren’t negatively impacting your mood. If they are, the advice is simple – unfollow
- If a student is feeling anxious, talk to others about how you feel. You don’t have to be strong or cope with things on your own. Student services are ready and available and there to help – check out your college/university website for more information
- For more tips on how to manage stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out these additional downloadable resources (Available in multiple languages)