Should the return to college be delayed?

Sir,– In a front-page article, Pat Leahy and Simon Carswell report that, "There is also some nervousness in Government and health service circles about the return of most students to colleges in the next fortnight, as many have not yet received their bolster booster vaccine doses" ("Government 'cautiously optimistic' on further easing of restrictions", News, January 13th).

Well, quite. With the Covid-19 infection rate running at approximately 20,000 cases a day, it would seem prudent to delay the return of many thousands of students and staff to college by a few weeks, until the peak of the wave has passed. One wonders why the Minister for Further and Higher Education has not recommended this option.

While there are strong societal reasons for keeping schools open, there is no evidence that a late start to the spring semester at third level would impose any great hardship on students. In fact, a long break after the first-semester exams is the norm in many countries.

All in all, it seems foolish and somewhat irresponsible to put the health of third-level students and staff at unnecessary risk.


If colleges resume next week, it seems likely that the third-level sector will soon be adding its own share to the Covid case numbers. Perhaps our political and college leaders would benefit from attending an introductory module in risk management? – Yours, etc,


School of Science,

Waterford Institute

of Technology.