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Updated: 6.00pm, Friday 27 March

The University is closed until further notice.

Teaching and assessment will be online/remote for the rest of the semester.

Colleagues are requested to continue to work remotely unless asked to attend work by your line manager. As currently, in exceptional circumstances, those needing access to buildings should only do so with the approval of your UMT member. Please continue to maintain social distancing and public health protocols at all times.

Guidance for staff if notified of a positive diagnosis of COVID-19

If you receive notification of a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 from:

A student in Ireland

  • Please forward the notification to COVID-19@nuigalway.ie so that our Student Services can reach out to the student and offer pastoral care support.

An international student who has returned to their country of origin

  • Obtain date of positive test and contact details of the student.
  • Inform Lorraine Harte (International Office) – Lorraine.M.Harte@nuigalway.ie – who will notify the HSE.

A staff member on your team

  • Please forward the notification to hrsickleave@nuigalway.ie so that our HR team can reach out to the staff member to offer support and follow up on any actions based on HSE advice.

If you have received a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 from the HSE yourself:

  • Please follow the advice given to you by the HSE.

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms yourself:

If you have been in close contact* in the last 14 days with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, but don’t have COVID-19 symptoms yourself:

  • Restrict your movements for 14 days since date of last exposure with a case. Follow HSE guidelines on restricting your movements.
  • If you develop COVID-19 symptoms follow Step 4 above.
  • *Close contact means you have been within 2 metres of a diagnosed person for more than 15 minutes of face-to-face contact

EXAMS: General approach

Examinations in halls will not run this May. All academic units are preparing for the delivery of assessments by alternative means. Where, for the purposes of professional accreditation, particular modes of examination which would require an examination bringing students together in a hall or in a similar setting are necessary, please bring this to the attention of your Head of School as soon as possible so that we can plan accordingly as best we can.

Please be mindful that there is a wide range of assessment types available. These are listed in the Marks and Standards document.

Additional material that may help in the formulation of alternative assessment can be found on the CELT Sharepoint site. Colleagues should be particularly mindful of students requiring special supports and consider their particular needs in the design of assessment by alternative means. In particular, please alert your Head of School of instances where you believe such special supports will be required.

Modules will be initiating alternative modes of assessment for end-of-semester exams. This task has required a lot of creative thinking and detailed planning to ensure the majority of modules will be examined in the coming exam session. Examinations will be conducted remotely using a range of exam modes including online exams run through Blackboard, Multiple-Choice Questions, take-home open-book exams, continuous assessment, projects, presentations delivered remotely via video, and more. For a limited number of programmes, the grade of some First and Second Year modules will not include an ‘end-of-semester’ examination. Details of module assessments will be available on most module pages on Blackboard by the end of this week.

EXAMS: How will this impact the exam schedule?

Please be aware that some online assessments will need to be extended beyond the traditional examination period to facilitate staggered online assessment and to allow sufficient time for essays, projects and open-book exams to be completed.

The Examinations Office will issue a new exam timetable later this week. Most exams will remain 2 hours in duration with 30 mins added for upload.

For students of Shannon College, a separate email will be forthcoming from the Head of Shannon College regarding any differences in exam arrangements that may apply.

EXAMS: How will we protect the integrity of the examination process?

Please be assured that our primary concern is to maintain the integrity and rigour of the examinations process, and the alternative assessments provided for each module will reflect appropriately the same level of effort required for traditional exams based in exam halls. The quality of your NUI Galway degree is paramount and will not be affected by an alternative mode of assessment.

Exam security will be protected by asking all students to complete a disclaimer statement at the start of each exam and each module leader reserves the right to follow up with a student by interview if there is any concern in relation to the integrity of the exam.

EXAMS: What is the Module Leaders’ role in the alterative assessment process

Unlike standard examinations, for all remote assessments the Module Leader’s role is to manage and effectively monitor the assessment.

  • For online assessments in particular, the relevant Module Leader is responsible for configuring, running and managing the online tools and assessment process.

For timed online exams:

  • These are not examinations in the traditional scheme and so, in place of invigilation in an exam venue, the assessment process can only be monitored and managed by the 'instructor' on the corresponding Blackboard module, ie the Module Leader. 
  • This means that you will required to be online before, during, and after any timed online assessment.
  • You will also need to provide students with your contact information (email address) in case any difficulties arise for individual students during the exam.

Generally:

  • We recommended that College or School Offices communicate to students  as soon as possible a central Office telephone number and email address for students who have no access to broadband or laptop/PC devices. Once the Exam Timetable is issued this week, Colleges can expect to receive queries from students with potential problems accessing the required technology.
  • For students reporting no suitable PC or laptop device on which to complete their exams, Colleges should try to establish the scale of this problem for your students next week. If the scale is relatively small, the possibility of making limited University computer facilities available could be explored. In the unlikely event that the scale is significant, and there is no way for the student to complete the exam without the use of technology, then as a last resort, such students will need to consider deferring to the Autumn Examinations. There is no penalty for deferring an exam.
  • For students reporting issues with connectivity and reliable broadband access, all Module Leaders have identified a Plan B assessment – we recommended making the Plan B assessment available to such students.
  • Some students have caring responsibilities at home and doing timed online assessments in the home environment may be challenging. Where these concerns are raised, you may need to give consideration to defaulting to the Plan B assessment type for such students.

EXAMS: What advice and support is in place for Module Leaders who encounter technology issues while running online or alternative assessments

If you are running a timed online exam, it is strongly recommended that you run a test with your class group in the next two weeks, to get a sense of the potential technology issues you may experience during the exam.

  • To minimise risk in online assessments it is essential that all the settings required on Blackboard, Turntin, or whichever tools are being used, are checked and verified.
  • It is also highly recommended, particularly for MCQ-type assessments (but also others), that a test run is initiated with the students on the module to verify that they can fully access and complete the test.  This will identify students who have technical issues in advance of the scheduled examination and allow alternative arrangements to be put in place, either for that group of students or the whole class/cohort.
  • Finally, there must be a 'Plan B' in place for each examination in case of technical difficulties with a live assessment. The commonest form of such would be a test provided and returned by email (where there is at least sufficient connection for this).
  • Module leaders need to be aware of and, to the best of their ability, act upon any relevant LENS accommodations pertaining to the mode of assessment.

CELT will continue to update their SharePoint site and are currently finalising Guidelines for the primary assessment types for all modules that have been identified from the documentation provided by the Heads of Schools.

AKARI Curriculum Manager updates

For Programme and Module Leaders: Please note that the deadlines for updating AKARI Curriculum Manager have been extended as follows:

  • New Programmes/Modules: 17 April
  • All other updates: 28 April

Research and innovation

There are many ways that our research and innovation communities are mobilising to contribute to the local, national and global COVID-19 response efforts. For example, our researchers have coalesced in establishing a COVID-19 Response Group within the NUI Galway Research Institutes. These research groups are already meeting to identify innovative and practical options for activity areas where we can make knowledge, research, innovation and resource contributions (including with our research partners outside the University) that are fully aligned with government/HSE efforts.

Our research contributions span a wide range of areas including, for example, biological responses to decontamination wipes preventing the spread of COVID-19, the provision of further equipment such as ventilators, technical expertise that may be utilised in the scaling up of testing, research on the social impact of COVID-19, contributions to the debate on the economic impact of the virus, and issues for youth and specifically for youth empathy as a community contributor. We are conscious that there are many such examples from across our university where our research can make a difference.  Thank you to our research community for mobilising once more for the public good.

Online Teaching

Teaching recommenced Monday 23 March with lectures delivered via Blackboard for the rest of the semester. By now, the majority of modules have a Blackboard page with relevant course material for the coming weeks uploaded. Lecture notes, Powerpoint presentations and videos have been uploaded and further material may be delivered by recorded video or live lecture via Blackboard Collaborate on the relevant Blackboard pages. Log on to the relevant Blackboard page for each of your modules to access course material.

This may be in the form of:

  • a live lecture
  • a recorded lecture
  • or your lecturer may be available via Blackboard to assist you with any queries on the lecture material.

Postgraduate Research Students

Research should continue where possible, with supervisors contactable by email.

Preparations for annual reviews are ongoing with online submission of reports and ‘virtual’ meetings with Graduate Research Committees expected.

Electronic means will be used to facilitate submission and examination of research theses and plans are also being developed to hold vivas remotely.

ACCESS: Can I access buildings and collect equipment?

It is necessary to restrict access to buildings across campus at this time

Staff access to University buildings will be allowed in exceptional circumstances only and will require prior authorisation by your UMT member.

ACCESS: General info on access to campus

The actions we take as individuals will have a major impact on the spread of the virus in our community. We have therefore closed the campus for teaching activities and all events, following Government advice, and have instructed students to return home where advisable and act on the HSE advice to minimise the spread of the virus. Staff are asked to work from home wherever possible and that they follow the advice of the HSE in relation to hygiene and social distancing.

It has been decided to close the Library and other facilities in line with Government advice. For details of available Library services during this time, please see the Library’s Online Services web page. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact library@nuigalway.ie.

If you are needed to work on campus, you will be asked to do so by your manager. For the moment, limited access is also available for all those who need access to buildings on campus, for example in support of preparations required to deliver the remainder of the academic programme for students remotely or to support ongoing research activities where access to campus is necessary. However, please only come to campus if it is necessary to do so and respect the limited nature of the access available. Bring your staff ID with you to facilitate access. Please also be aware that we may need to change access arrangements at short notice if required.

Meetings should be held remotely, by phone, videoconference or other means. Colleagues on campus are urged to politely maintain social distance and to follow the public health protocols with regard to hygiene and handwashing. Our university will further restrict access to the campus facilities further if advised to do so in the interests of public health.

ACCESS: How do I access Library services during the University closure?

The James Hardiman Library is closed and will remain closed until the University reopens.

Students and staff can find details of available services at https://library.nuigalway.ie/usingthelibrary/onlineservices/

ACCESS: How do I access IT services during the University closure?

For advice on how to access University web services remotely, please visit our Remote Access to IT Services webpage

Remote Access Dos and Don’ts

  • Access information on remotely accessing the University’s main IT services, including the key URLs you will need, here: http://www.nuigalway.ie/remoteaccess/
  • Work only on official University platforms including Blackboard, the University email system and the University’s Office365 environment which includes OneDrive, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.
  • Ensure your computer, laptop, or device, is used in a safe location, 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.  Make sure your devices are turned off, locked, or stored carefully when not in use.
  • Take extra care that devices, such as USBs, phones, laptops, or tablets, are not lost or misplaced.
  • Before sending an email, double-check its addressing to ensure you’re sending it to the correct recipient(s), particularly for emails involving large amounts of personal data or sensitive personal data.
  • Don’t use personal email accounts for emails involving University data.
  • If you are working without cloud or network access, ensure any locally stored data is adequately backed up in a secure manner.
  • Avoid retaining duplicate copies of data on your device. Please check that downloaded files are deleted from your computer’s Download Folder / Hard Disk once saved to Blackboard, OneDrive, Teams, SharePoint or network folders and not retained on devices where they may be visible to unauthorised individuals.
  • Keep any paper documents which contain University data secure when working at home – lock paper files away when not in use.  Use a shredder / confidential bin when disposing of University documents.

Student placements

Students currently on placement in Ireland are advised to follow the official advice given wherever they are on placement. They should also be mindful of all advice from the HSE and follow appropriate protocols around social distancing, etc. Any student who, for whatever reason, feels unable to complete their placement will be facilitated with alternative academic work by the relevant unit.

We are requesting that ALL medical students should remain off clinical placement (both hospital and community) until Monday 30 March. We will review this evolving situation on 27 March and will issue an update at that point. The only exception remains the 4th year Nursing and Midwifery intern students who are to remain in placement.

Deferrals

The policy relating to deferral of exams will be reviewed in the context of the current situation with a view to offering flexibility to students where necessary in the interests of public health and the welfare of our students and staff.

Research experiments

No new research experiments should be commenced during this time.

Part-time and Agency staffing arrangements

All of our agency staff and Part-time Teaching Assistants will be paid for the work that was planned up until Sunda 29 March. It is likely that many of our PTTA colleagues will be helpful with online teaching support and other supports. We are very grateful at this time for the work and support of all those who work with us, including our part-time and agency staff, all part of our university community.

What does the University closure mean for researchers?

We advise that researchers should work from home unless there is a critical need to access facilities (e.g. Labs).  In such cases you should contact your line manager for advice on access.

What does the University closure mean for staff?

Staff will be working remotely. Members of our University Management Team will contact any staff who may be required to continue to work from campus during the closure. 

  • Remote access to IT services: For advice on how to access University web services remotely, please visit our Remote Access to IT Services webpage.
  • Learning Technologies: For guides and resources on a variety of Learning Technologies at the University, please visit CELT's Learning Technologies page (https://tips.nuigalway.ie/)
  • Shifting lectures online: Supports for shifting to online teaching during the COVID-19 crisis available on this CELT Sharepoint site

For lecturers and School administrators: We thank you for your commitment and flexibility in responding to the sudden need for remote working and facilitating online teaching and assessment. We would like to draw your attention to the supports and resources on the CELT Sharepoint site to help you deliver your classes online.

For Programme and Module Leaders: Please note that the deadlines for updating AKARI Curriculum Manager have been extended as follows:

  • New Programmes/Modules: 17 April
  • All other updates: 28 April

What does the University closure mean for campus suppliers?

All non-critical deliveries to the University should be postponed until after the University reopens..

For critical deliveries during the University closure (e.g. for laboratories), staff should contact their suppliers directly to make arrangements.

REMOTE WORKING: Advice for managers and staff on Remote Working

  • Every effort should be made to facilitate staff to work from home during this time, in some instances staff may be asked to assist in other roles where required.
  • Although the University does not have a Remote Working policy staff need to be aware that if they are working from home they should be observe compliance with GDPR, and Health & Safety legislation. Whilst it would be normal that a risk assessment of your home would be carried out given that this is an emergency situation we are not in a position to undertake same. However, guidance is available on the HSA website link above giving practical advice for employees and employers. 
  • In regard to GDPR it is important to continue to comply with the legislation and some simple guidance is in this link https://dataprotection.ie/en/news-media/blogs/protecting-personal-data-when-working-remotely
  • While staff are working remotely there should be regular contact maintained. This should be done either by phone or using video conferencing technology i.e. Microsoft 365 teams.
  • It is important to support each other during this time.

REMOTE WORKING: Home working tips and recommendations from Dr Mike Hynes (Environmental Sociologist, School of Political Science & Sociology)

Click the link to read some useful and practical tips for working from home, presented by Dr Mike Hynes (Environmental Sociologist, School of Political Science & Sociology)