NUI Galway reopened its campus this week to welcome its first year students to a three-day dedicated online and on campus orientation.
Senior university staff are leading familiarisation sessions with students as part of efforts to help them navigate their way in this new environment of learning and being on campus.
Returning students and teaching staff will return to the blended teaching model from next Monday.
In adherence with Government and Public Health Guidelines the university has undertaken significant measures to encourage new behaviours on campus that are necessary for everyone to work together to keep students, staff, and the wider community safe.
Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, deputy president and registrar of NUI Galway, said; “As we begin an academic year like no other, our top priority is obviously the safety of our community, both on campus and locally. For various reasons, an online only model will not suit many students, and we are doing our utmost to deliver a safe blended teaching model, so students get the best possible learning experience.
“This group of students carries a responsibility that no other group has had to bear before them, as the usual rites of passage of college life will have to be reimagined, so that we can keep each other safe. We are asking our community to work with us to make that happen.
“As with every community in Ireland, the NUI Galway community has been impacted by Covid-19. The university orientation is heavily focused on the safe behaviours required to be a student during this pandemic and to remind the community of the severity of the illness.”
Lynn Porter, a second year commerce student at NUI Galway, who overcame Covid-19 last March, said; “I want to make all students aware of how serious this virus is and that we all have to work together to stop it spreading. When I was in hospital, I never felt fear like it because of the unknown and the uncertainty of how bad I could get. I was lucky to come out the other side, but it’s an experience nobody wants to go through and we know how to avoid it.
“Wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance and follow the public health advice. College life might be different this year, but missing a few parties is a small price to pay and could save lives.”
The university has undertaken comprehensive steps to reopen safely that include:
- All NUI Galway taught programmes will be delivered using blended online and on-campus classes, including tutorials, seminars, lab work, distanced meet-ups, and digital options like podcasts, streaming, and videos.
- In line with public health guidelines, teaching spaces are being laid out and managed in order to safeguard the health of both staff and students.
- All students are being asked to download three apps – NUI Galway App; the Blackboard App to access education; and the HSE Covid Tracker App.
- The library, campus sports facilities and most restaurants and social spaces will be open and operating under public health guidance.
- NUI Galway has been allocated funding from the Higher Education Authority to enhance mental health and wellbeing support for students.
- Staff are individually phoning (and text to unanswered call ) all incoming First Year students who accepted their place in NUI Galway, to welcome and introduce the students to the university.
- A laptop rental scheme, thanks to a Government Covid-19/HEI support fund, has been set up to help students and up to 800 laptops will be lent to students through the access office.
- Signage, directional arrows, and one-way systems have been installed throughout campus buildings to support safe social distancing.
- Hand sanitisers have been installed throughout the campus and staff and students are asked to sanitise as often as possible.
- Sanitising wipes are available in all teaching rooms for students and staff to sanitise their hands and their workstations.
- Face coverings are being provided to all staff and students for use when indoors on campus.
- As part of the university’s commitment to suppress the spread of Covid-19, the Cúram Dá Chéile initiative is asking its students and staff to commit to be part of our university community, to behave appropriately, to consider others, to follow advice and public health guidelines, to act responsibly and to respect everyone in the university and wider community.
For more information about starting and returning to campus visit: www.nuigalway.ie/alert/ or download the NUI Galway App.