Athlone Institute of Technology has unveiled plans for in-person teaching and learning on campus to resume in the new academic year.
Students in second, third and fourth year will return to their studies on campus on Monday, September 6, while incoming first-year students will begin on Monday, September 27.
The college, which will shortly be opening its doors as Ireland’s third technological university, plans to deliver the majority of its lectures, labs and tutorials on-site and will resume work placements.
The return to on-site learning, which is supported by the government and endorsed by public health authorities, is being facilitated by the fact that a majority of adults, including students, will have been vaccinated by September.
Athlone IT President, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, said he was looking forward to welcoming students back on campus and that the college was committed to “the highest levels of in-person teaching and learning possible”.
“The past 18 months have been challenging for students, some of whom have only ever known the virtual campus experience. Thankfully, we are now at a point where a return to on-site learning is both safe and feasible.
“We fully recognise the value of the on-campus student experience and are extremely pleased to be able to commit to a return to in-person teaching and learning for the new academic year. The on-campus experience is integral to students’ holistic development and contributes, among other things, to a greater sense of belonging.
“Every effort has been made to ensure the safety of students and staff as we prepare to transition back to in-person teaching and learning. This includes masking and the installation of more than 100 hygiene stations, which I hope will reassure and instil confidence,” Professor Ó Catháin commented.
Echoing this, Frances O’ Connell, VP for Academic Affairs and Registrar at Athlone IT, said she was extremely optimistic about the coming academic year.
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming our returning and incoming first-year students to AIT in September. Our aim has always been to provide an exceptionally supportive and robust student and academic experience, and we are delighted to once again be able to offer that in person.
“The uptake of vaccines nationally is what is enabling us to take this significant step. Such great progress has been made; however, we mustn’t allow ourselves to become complacent, and I would urge those who have yet to do so, to get vaccinated for yourselves and for your community.
“We each have a personal and shared responsibility to protect ourselves, each other and the wider community, and this will be paramount when campus life resumes this September,” Ms O’Connell remarked.
The return to on-site learning will include laboratory teaching and learning, tutorials, classroom-based teaching and learning, workshops, library access, and smaller lectures; larger lectures may need to run in a blended/online format.