Trinity introduces online classes in bid to limit coronavirus threat

University closes Book of Kells exhibition and Old Library to visitors

Trinity College Dublin has replaced physical lectures with online classes in an attempt to limit the coronavirus threat.

However, tutorials, seminars and laboratory practicals will continue to be given in the usual fashion while using social distancing protocols.

In addition, the university has closed the Book of Kells exhibition and Old Library, the Science Gallery and the Douglas Hyde Gallery to visitors from 1pm on Tuesday.

In a message to staff and students, TCD provost Patrick Prendergast and vice provost Jürgen Barkhoff said the measures will allow Trinity to maintain continuity of teaching and learning while minimising the need to bring together students in large groups.


“This will slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus, but further measures may be necessary and these arrangements will be kept under continuous review,” the email states.

The Department of Education, meanwhile, has said there are no plans for large-scale school closures.

While there have been rumours of closures circulating on social media, officials have said they will be guided by public health advice which at present is not to close schools.

At least four schools have closed over the past week or so - one in the Dublin area and three in the west - after individuals tested positive for coronavirus.

Dublin City University, meanwhile, has postponed graduation ceremonies that were scheduled for March 21st.

In a letter to graduates, DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith said the university considered that it was in the best interests of all concerned to postpone the event.

He said an alternative date for the ceremonies will be considered and communicated over the coming months.

Other universities and institutions of technology are drawing up contingency plans for shutting down

Earlier this week, Trinity College Dublin told staff and students that a member of the college community who was diagnosed with coronavirus appears to have made a good recovery. It said no other case had been diagnosed to its knowledge

Trinity said its move to cancel lectures and visitors attractions was based on health advice.

“Our goal is to decrease the number of instances that lead to students, staff, and visitors coming together in large groups in close proximity with each other,” it said, in an email. “... Further actions may be needed.”

The developments overshadowed the launch of Trinity’s new five-year plan which will see student numbers increase by about 10 per cent.

It also plans to hire academic staff in key areas and reduce the student-to-staff ratio from 18:1 to 16:1.

In addition, it plans to expand it access programme for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Much student growth will be among international students, who will account for 36 per cent of students on campus by 2024.

It also wants to raise postgraduate student numbers on campus above 30 per cent, which is closer to comparable research universities across the world

Major capital developments will see at least 600 more student accommodation units, a cancer centre for excellence in oncology in partnership with St James’s Hospital, and the completion of the E3 Learning Foundry (Engineering, Energy and Environment).


“Over the next five years our campus will become more diverse and more inclusive with increases in the number of international students, postgraduates and students from underrepresented groups,” said vice provost Juergen Barkhoff.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent