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Staff COVID-19 Information

About

Welcome to the MIC Covid-19 Staff Hub. Here, you will find COVID-19 related frequently asked questions, useful information and the MIC COVID-19 safety protocols.

Latest update: 12 February 2022

The HSE website has a huge amount of information about Covid-19, vaccinations and general health services.

Gov.ie has the latest updates on public health measures, international travel information and more.

COVID Tracker App

All staff and students are strongly advised to download the free COVID Tracker App if they have not done so already.

Click on the image below to download the HSE COVID Tracker App.

On-Site Working

All staff and students are expected to follow Public Health guidelines to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Preventing the transmission of COVID-19 can only be achieved on a cooperative basis with shared responsibility between staff, students and management.

As a matter of course you should:

  • Not attend work if you are feeling unwell or displaying any COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Washing your hands properly and often.
  • Observe social distancing guidelines indicated by signage on campus.
  • Wear a face covering in shared spaces

We have put in place a range of additional measures to protect the health of our community as we all return to campus. These measures include:

These measures include:

  • The Covid Nurse has reiterated that the wearing of face masks and access to fresh air remain the most effective preventative measures against Covid transmission both pre- and post-vaccination;
  • Small group sizes (to a max of 80 students) to be taught on campus;
  • CO2 Monitors to be in place in teaching rooms to enable ongoing monitoring of air quality;
  • Student-facing offices to have perspex screens in place;
  • Enhanced cleaning regime in place to clean after group sessions and esp. high contact 'touch points';

All of us have a part to play in preventing the spread of infection so personal responsibility and the principles of keeping your distance from others, wearing face coverings and diligent hand washing are more important than ever.

As outlined in the protocol – do not come on campus if you are feeling unwell, display any symptoms of COVID-19, are awaiting the results of a health test or are a close contact of a confirmed COVID case.

What do I do if I, or someone in my vicinity, develops symptoms on campus?

For information on what to do in the case of suspected COVID-19 case(s) on campus see here.

In the interests of everyone’s health, the wearing of face masks on campus will continue when people are in common areas, corridors and travelling through the campus etc.

The wearing of face masks in the Library remains mandatory and in the Restaurant people are required to wear masks when moving about.

Students should continue to wear face masks.

FFP2 facemasks will continue to be available for lecturing and other staff as this is still considered to be good practice, particularly when in crowded areas.

Individuals at high risk or very high risk (People at higher risk from COVID-19 - HSE.ie) should follow public health advice, including in relation to wearing a face mask that provides a high level of protection. Staff in the high risk or very high risk categories may contact the HR Office in order to discuss any concerns they may have about working on campus.

See Face masks: when and how to wear one - HSE.ie

Lecturing staff may remove face masks to speak and deliver lectures provided they remain 2m away from others and keep ventilation in the room.

The wearing of face masks on campus will continue when people are in common areas, corridors and travelling through the campus etc.

The wearing of face masks in the Library remains mandatory and in the Restaurant people are required to wear masks when moving about. Students should continue to wear face masks.

Staff should manage compliance with mask wearing by students as they would any other staff discipline issue – appreciating that individual staff will have their own preferences in this regard.  A suggested approach is that staff should advise all students that wearing masks should continue at the commencement of class, reminding students of their personal responsibility and being mindful of those around them.

Some students may have a certified medical reason which may preclude them from wearing a mask and staff may wish to follow this up with the COVID nurse for further advice if necessary. If the student continues to refuse to wear a mask without good reason, advice should be sought from the staff member responsible for student discipline, the Assistant Registrar

Remote Working

MIC has devised the following document to set out principles under which the primary objective of a return to on campus programme delivery will be supported by the return of staff to campus while facilitating remote working for employees, where appropriate.

The document can be accessed here.

If an academic staff member is unwell due to Covid or any other illness, then normal substitution protocol applies.

If an academic staff member is required to restrict their movements, but is well, their academic content should be delivered online.

If a professional services staff member is required to stay at home due to COVID-19, they should continue to work remotely if well enough to do so.

The College has provided ways to work remotely without being in breach of Data Protection policies. How you share data is very important and as long as you follow the dos and don’ts below you will NOT be in breach of the College’s Data Protection Policies and Procedures:

Policies & Advice

Do

  • Continue to comply with all College related ICT and data compliance polices which are available on https://micportal.mci.ul.ie
  • Continue to adhere to previous and new advisories issued by ICT Services and the Data Compliance office.

Data Breaches

Do

  • Report ALL incidents involving loss or disclosure of personal data (e.g. emails sent to the incorrect recipient, files lost/stolen, cyber security incidents) to Dataprotection@mic.ul.ie as soon as you become aware of the incident.
  • MIC has an obligation under GDPR to report data breaches to the Data Protection Commission within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach.

Devices

Do

  • Make sure that devices being used have the necessary updates, such as operating system updates (like iOS or android) and software/antivirus updates.
  • Ensure your device, is used in a safe location, for example where you can keep sight of it and minimise who else can view the screen, particularly if working with sensitive personal data.
  • Lock your device if you do have to leave it unattended for any reason.
  • Take extra care that devices, such as USBs, phones, laptops, or tablets, are not lost or misplaced. When a device is lost or stolen, email ICTHelpdesk@mic.ul.ie or Dataprotection@mic.ul.ie immediately.

Emails

Do

  • Follow the data protection policies around the use of email at https://micportal.mic.ul.ie.
  • Use work email accounts rather than personal ones for work-related emails involving personal data.
  • Before sending an email, ensure you’re sending it to the correct recipient, particularly for emails involving large amounts of personal data or sensitive personal data.
  • Only connect to secured WI-FI connections.

Don't

  • Download email attachments to personal phones or non-MIC owned machines.

File Storage

  • Only use MIC’s trusted networks or cloud services, and comply with MIC rules and procedures about cloud or network access, login and, data sharing.
  • Use Team Share Storage: ICT Services provide file shares for offices/teams on the central storage infrastructure managed by ICT Services. This enables staff within an office or team to share files between office/team members.
  • Use SharePoint (micportal.mic.ul.ie): SharePoint can be used as a secure place to store, organise, share, collaborate and access information between College domain users.
  • Use Dropbox: This is a secure file sharing and storage solution for College domain users and college partners that do not have a college domain account. When sharing files/folders, users are advised to share these to individuals as opposed to using the sharing a link feature. The sharing a link feature publicly shares files/folders and this is not recommended.
  • Use OneDrive: ICT Services facilities OneDrive. Microsoft OneDrive is a file hosting service and synchronization service operated by Microsoft as part of Office 365.

Sending Personal Data

Don't

  • Use email for communicating personal data. Instead, use central systems such as SharePoint.

Do

  • First password protect your attachment if you are sending personal data via attachments to an email.
  • Use HEA File Sender when sending large files containing personal data; ensure you select the ‘encrypt’ option. Instructions are available on the ICT portal page.

Paper files containing MIC data

  • Only print documents if necessary. Avoid retaining duplicate copies of data.
  • Always use a shredder/confidential shredding console when disposing of College documents.
  • Keep documents which contain MIC data secure when working at home – always lock paper files away when not in use.
  • Exercise a ‘clean desk’ ethos when using shared spaces for work purposes.

You can find further information in the Remote Working Policy.

Working ‘remotely’ from an external location is possible using two methods:

The first method, which will apply to the vast majority of staff working remotely, is simply through an internet connection (e.g. home broadband). Using their normal broadband connection to the internet, staff can log in as authorised users to the applications they normally use on a day-to-day basis such as Office 365 email, SharePoint, Moodle and Agresso. Staff can also access online documents that they may have saved to Sharepoint, OneDrive (Office 365) or Dropbox.

The second method is through a Virtual Private Network or VPN and this will apply to a smaller number of staff. A VPN is necessary for external access to shared files on systems such as FileStream and SAN-Server file shares, which some offices use for secure document storage. A VPN is also necessary for staff administering College systems such the Student Records System (SI) and Agresso Client. The vast majority of staff using these systems have been provided with VPN access by ICT Services but if any staff member requires one to continue to work online they should contact ICT Services immediately.

Learn how to schedule meetings using MS Teams here.

The ICT Services Helpdesk is available to answer any queries you have relating to working from home remotely?

For ICT enquiries, please email ICTHelpdesk@mic.ul.ie.

The Information Compliance team, along with the ICT Services Helpdesk are available to answer any queries you have relating to working from home remotely.

Your line manager is the first port of call if you have a query.

If you have a specific question that your line manager has been unable to answer, or indeed you have been unable to find the answer to on the College’s website/portal or from the relevant Office/Service, email Safety@mic.ul.ie 

Useful Information

Please click here to find the latest working arrangements for Civil and Public Service during COVID-19 as issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on 23 December 2020 and revised in June 2021.

If you have any queries please contact the HR office.

Please click here to find the Working from Home Guidelines recently published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

You can find MIC's COVID-19 Remote Working Policy here.

If you have any queries please contact the HR office.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris TD has today confirmed further restriction of onsite third level activity in response to the deteriorating COVID-19 situation.

Further and higher education are operating primarily online with most activities delivered remotely during this academic year.

Institutions have used some limited discretion to identify and schedule essential onsite activities, including during the last period of Level 5 restrictions up to the start of December. Onsite scheduling has included teaching and research in laboratories, practical tuition and skills-based workshops with a focus on activities that cannot be replicated online. Institutions have also provided direct onsite engagement to meet the needs of learners who are vulnerable or lack supports.

Institutions have been very careful and adaptable in using this discretion in planning onsite activities, taking account of the public health situation nationally and locally including the most recent deterioration.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: "The COVID-19 situation is continuing to deteriorate significantly and we must all play our part.

"During the immediate period ahead, third level institutions and providers will again adapt and use their existing discretion to restrict onsite attendance further, only allowing the most essential work to take place onsite. Local assessment will focus on activities that are not capable of being delivered through alternative means and are time-critical for students and learners during this period.

"In addition, Youthreach services can resume as scheduled with provision primarily online but with additional support onsite where essential.

"This has been an incredibly challenging year for our colleges, students, our community educators but we all must restrict our movements to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"I know this is a particularly stressful time for students, many of whom are doing assessments and assignments at the minute. I want them to know this will not be forever. The college experience will not always be like this.

"If you are finding it difficult, please reach out and seek assistance. There are supports available."

What Level 5 means for Further and Higher Education – Minister Harris

The Government has decided that as of midnight on Wednesday 21st October all of Ireland will be placed on Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID.

Level 5 of the Plan is available here.

Speaking today (Tuesday), Minister Harris said: “Our further and higher education institutions have already moved classes primarily online, with student and staff welfare being of paramount importance. I want to pay tribute to the collective efforts of staff and students in continuing educational programmes in this way.

“We are now in a scenario where Ireland as a whole must move to Level 5 of the Government’s plan for living with COVID, and that means that all further and higher education institutions should continue to deliver the vast majority of classes online.

“The Level 5 measures announced last night designate higher and further education as essential insofar as onsite presence is required and such education activities cannot be held remotely.  Institutions and providers are best placed to determine where onsite presence is required but essential activities at Level 5 in further and higher education may include:

  • Teaching and research in laboratories, practical and skills-based tuition, workshops (including training of apprentices)
  • Engagement, including small group learning, with learners whose particular needs require additional support over and above that which can be provided online.
  • Scheduled access to libraries and other onsite study space for those students who do not otherwise have suitable facilities or home environment to access learning remotely.
  • Small group activity to mitigate disadvantage in literacy, numeracy and basic skills provision including the National Youthreach Programme and community and adult education and literacy programmes. 
  • Skills and experiential learning for disciplines related to essential services such as clinical placements and regulated safety training in the construction sector
  • On-campus research activities which cannot be undertaken remotely.
  • Provision of necessary onsite support to meet the mental health and welfare needs of students.

"Campus accommodation will remain open to students and staff but with no visitors permitted. In line with Level 5, from Wednesday midnight students are asked to exercise within 5 kilometres of their accommodation and not visit other households.

“All appropriate protective measures will be maintained to support these onsite activities and to avoid congregation.  For transport to and from campuses for the above essential purposes walking and cycling is encouraged but public transport can be used where necessary.

“This has been a very difficult time for students and for those working in further and higher education, and I want to acknowledge that.  It is clear that programmes will continue to operate primarily online for the remainder of this semester. We will review the position with relevant institutions and stakeholders in the light of experience and the progress of the disease and communicate the position for next semester before the end of the year.”

Read Guidance on the impact of vaccination and previous infection with COVID-19 on contact tracing document here.

If you have not found an answer for your query on this page you can contact the relevant office/support service through the email addresses given below.

The latest information on the HSE MidWest services can be found here.

FAQs

The 'Covid Packs' on hand in College will be updated so as to contain: FFP2 A1 Facemasks (5), Antigen Test Kit and Hand sanitiser. These packs are currently available for collection on campus through Buildings & Estates nominated collection points. These packs will be available to academic staff coming on campus to deliver lectures and tutorials, and also to professional services staff as they may require. Contact BuildingServices@mic.ul.ie for a Covid pack.

The College Medical Centre is on hand to support and will make additional test kits available to staff as needed. However the College will act purely as a distribution channel for antigen tests. Please conduct your antigen tests off campus and dispose of your medical waste carefully.

The College will not conduct antigen tests for individuals nor interpret the results of same. As advised previously – do not come on campus if you are feeling unwell and/or displaying any of the symptoms of Covid-19.

Note: In relation to Antigen Test Kits: kits/contents should not be stored in a plastic bag but kept out of daylight and stored between 2- 18 degrees Celcius.

Students: Antigen Test kits will be provided free to students.

No. However, the College recommends that all staff are vaccinated to protect against the coronavirus. Follow this link for more information about the vaccination programme in Ireland.

You cannot be asked for your vaccination status by the College.

No. However, the College recommends that all students are vaccinated to protect against the coronavirus.

For information on what to do in the case of suspected COVID-19 case(s) on campus see here.

The 'Covid Packs' on hand in College will to contain: FFP2 A1 Facemasks (5), Antigen Test Kit and Hand sanitiser. These packs are currently available for collection on campus through Buildings & Estates nominated collection points. These packs will be available to academic staff coming on campus to deliver lectures and tutorials, and also to professional services staff as they may require.

Contact BuildingServices@mic.ul.ie for a Covid pack.

While on campus, you'll be expected to wear a face mask at all times while indoors, except when you are alone in a single occupancy office or you are medically exempted from wearing a mask. Please note that the College will not be providing face masks. As such, you are asked to bring your own reusable face mask to College.

Regular automatic hand sanitising stations have been installed at regular intervals in every College building which you are encouraged to make full use of. 

Perspex screens are fitted in certain offices and desks with student/public facing roles and interaction. They are not fitted in teaching spaces as there is adequate space for lecturers to stand back 2m in the delivery of their lectures.

Suitable material cleaning materials will be on hand to allow users to clean down equipment before and after use. 

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, the student should follow the HSE advice and inform public health authorities of persons they have been in close contact with.  It is subsequently a matter for public health authorities to notify students and staff that they are a close contact and to provide appropriate advice. The College will only advise staff or students that they should restrict their movements, following consultation with and advice from public health authorities.

The student should also notify the relevant faculty/school office, which in turn will inform the Medical Centre.

If a student informs their lecturer that they have tested positive, the lecturer should advise the student to inform both the public health authorities and the relevant faculty/school office.

The College advises everyone to download the HSE COVID Tracker App, as it will inform them if they have been a close contact.

Please Note: The definition of what constitutes ‘a close contact’ is changing regularly. Please see the HSE website for updates.

MIC recognises that some students may have their in-person attendance interrupted by requirements to self-isolate. In line with our commitment under the Plan for a Safe Return to "make appropriate provisions for vulnerable…students and learners", module leaders are asked to ensure that their Moodle site includes the basic online support materials for their module – e.g. a module outline, a lecture schedule, reading lists and materials, lecture notes, PPT slide decks or recorded lectures. The student should not be penalised for non-physical attendance.

While coughing is a symptom of COVID-19, it is also a symptom of the common cold and other respiratory illnesses. Further information on symptoms of COVID-19 can be found here HSE: Symptoms of COVID-19.

 All students are repeatedly advised not to come on campus if they feel unwell or are displaying any COVID-19 symptoms. If the coughing and sneezing is consistent perhaps you could ask the student in question if they are alright and suggest that they contact the medical centre if they are unwell.

If a staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they should follow the HSE advice and inform public health authorities of persons they have been in close contact with.  It is subsequently a matter for public health authorities to notify students and staff that they are a close contact and to provide appropriate advice.  The College will only advise staff or students that they should restrict their movements, following consultation with and advice from public health authorities.

The staff member should also notify their Line Manager, who in turn will inform the Director of HR. 

The College advises everyone to download the HSE COVID Tracker App, as it will inform them if they have been a close contact.

Please Note: The definition of what constitutes ‘a close contact’ is changing regularly. Please see the HSE website for updates.

For the most up to date definition of a close contact and advice on what to do if you meet the criteria, check the HSE website here.

No.

The College will never inform you if you are a close contact of someone; rather a member of the HSE Contact Tracing team will contact you directly if you are deemed to be a close contact.

28 Feb 2022 sees confirmation that face-mask wearing is no longer mandatory in public spaces, with certain exceptions including public transport.

The College will continue to strongly encourage all staff, students and visitors to wear a face-mask while moving about on campus and in lecture or group settings.

Face-masks must be worn if attending the Medical Centre and are available at this and other locations.

The touch-point cleaning regime and other measures will also be retained for some time further.

These measures are in the interests of the health and safety of all campus users and especially those who may have underlying health issues or be related etc. to those in such categories.

Individuals at high risk or very high risk (People at higher risk from COVID-19 - HSE.ie) should follow public health advice, including in relation to wearing a face mask that provides a high level of protection. Staff in the high risk or very high risk categories may contact the HR Office in order to discuss any concerns they may have about working on campus.

See Face masks: when and how to wear one - HSE.ie

Lecturing staff may remove face masks to speak and deliver lectures provided they remain 2m away from others and keep ventilation in the room. 

The wearing of face masks on campus will continue when people are in common areas, corridors and travelling through the campus etc.

The wearing of face masks in the Library remains mandatory and in the Restaurant people are required to wear masks when moving about. Students should continue to wear face masks.

Staff should manage compliance with mask wearing by students as they would any other staff discipline issue – appreciating that individual staff will have their own preferences in this regard.  A suggested approach is that staff should advise all students that wearing masks should continue at the commencement of class, reminding students of their personal responsibility and being mindful of those around them.

Some students may have a certified medical reason which may preclude them from wearing a mask and staff may wish to follow this up with the COVID nurse for further advice if necessary. If the student continues to refuse to wear a mask without good reason, advice should be sought from the staff member responsible for student discipline, the Assistant Registrar

If a student has an underlying medical condition, which may inhibit their capacity to return to campus, they are advised to contact returntocampus@mic.ul.ie as a matter of urgency.

Otherwise, there is an expectation that students will be on campus for their scheduled face-to-face classes.

MIC is implementing a range of measures to ensure that students can be safely taught in person, where government guidance and local health and safety circumstances allows. If a student has any concerns, then they should be advised to speak to their GP and/or hospital specialist in the first instance. If, after seeking medical advice, they decide to proceed with making a request to studying remotely, they should email returntocampus@mic.ul.ie and attach any relevant supporting certification from an appropriate  consultant or specialist service. More information is available on the Student section of the COVID Hub.

Double teaching sessions should take a break at the mid-point, 50 minutes, for a 10 min break in order to allow people step outside the room and for further ventilation to occur. The lecturer should inform the students of this process at the start of the double class.

Please note all windows and doors will be opened in the morning by the B&E team and will remain open where it is safe to do so.

All windows and doors will be opened every morning by Buildings & Estates and will remain open throughout the day, when safe to do so.

In the case of double classes the lecturer is asked to take a break at the mid-way point and ask everyone to leave the room for ten minutes to allow for ventilation; opening the doors and windows if they have been closed. If assistance is required with this please contact a member of the Building & Estates Team: BuildingServices@mic.ul.ie.

Building & Estates have completed a ventilation review of all buildings to ensure that air purity and circulation quality meets the required public health standard in relation to the number of seats in all teaching rooms.

Where possible, ventilation upgrades have taken place and, in some cases, additional air filtration systems are being installed with 20 air purifiers being installed this past week in the following locations: T115, T116, T117, T118, T201, T202, T203, T204, T205, T206, T207, T208, T211, T212, T213, T214, T306, T313, T314 and T315. These self-contained HEPA antimicrobial air filtration systems are designed to meet airborne infection control and particulate contamination challenges in indoor environments.

In certain cases it may be necessary to delay the commencement of the lecture if it is felt that the room in question is in need of additional ventilation. In this scenario the lecturer should ask all students to leave the room and open all windows (where possible) and doors to allow for replenishment of air.

A number of staff have expressed concern about the windows being opened in various rooms and offices. However, in order to ensure that the air in indoor spaces is constantly being refreshed it is necessary to have all windows and, where possible, doors open. As a result these indoor spaces will be cooler as we progress through to the winter and so it may be advisable to wear additional layers. However, room temperatures should not fall below a tolerable level.  If you have a concern about low room temperatures please contact the Health and Safety Manager in the first instance.

Further information on the role ventilation plays in reducing the transmission of COVID can be accessed here.

Staff and students should practice social distancing during breaks where possible.

  • Sign-in sheets should not be used to record attendance.
  • Staff may use discretion in monitoring attendance in face-to-face settings. It may be possible to record attendance verbally given the smaller class group sizes.
  • Student engagement online can be monitored via Moodle.

Each Office/Line Manager will be responsible for managing this as appropriate to the services offered by their Office. Students are being advised to pre-book appointments and/or contact staff via MS Teams as drop-in’s cannot be facilitated during this time.

Face-to-face meetings and authorised on-campus events can resume subject to consideration and management of risk. Please submit requests for on-campus events to Safety@mic.ul.ie.

If an academic staff member is unwell due to Covid or any other illness, then normal substitution protocol applies.

If an academic staff member is required to restrict their movements, but is well, their academic content should be delivered online.

If a professional services staff member is required to stay at home due to COVID-19, they should continue to work remotely if well enough to do so.

MIC Limerick Academic Lead Work Representative: Des.Carswell@mic.ul.ie

MIC Limerick Professional Services Lead Work Representative: Marie.Quaid@mic.ul.ie

MIC Thurles Lead Work Representative: Ruth.Talbot@mic.ul.ie

If you have a specific question that your Line Manager has been unable to answer, or indeed you have been unable to find the answer to on the College’s website/portal or from the relevant Office/Service, please email Safety@mic.ul.ie

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