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Students will be asked to record seat numbers for college lectures


(stock photo)

(stock photo)

(stock photo)

College students attending face-to-face lectures will be asked to record their seat numbers, under public health protocols agreed for the return to campus.

It is among the measures to be introduced to assist with contact tracing in the event of a Covid case emerging among a college community.

However, with tighter restrictions imposed across the higher-education sector last Friday, it could be several weeks before the overwhelming majority of students sit in a lecture theatre.

With concerns about the growth in Covid infection in many counties, the focus of the next two to three weeks is to minimise the cross-country movement of students and avoid the congregation of large groups on campus.

Colleges were expecting to welcome limited numbers of students this week, either for first-year orientation or the start of teaching, but scaled back their plans further after Friday's announcement.

Campuses have been closed to students since March and detailed protocols for the safe return were agreed prior to the recent re-opening setbacks, initially affecting Dublin colleges, and now the entire sector. The discussions involved Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris, the Irish Universities Association, the Technological Higher Education Association and the Union of Students in Ireland.

Like in other sections of society, the protocol puts onerous record-keeping responsibilities on the colleges, for contact tracing and risk-assessment purposes.

To the greatest extent possible, they are asked to record attendance by students and staff at classes, lectures and practicals and to retain records for 28 days.

Colleges are also urged to encourage staff and students to maintain a Covid-contact diary to record details of their movements and activities when on campus.

Meanwhile, the postponed Leaving Cert will kick off with biology on the evening of Monday, November 16, according to the timetable published by the State Examinations Commission yesterday. It also opened for applications for the rescheduled sitting.

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Any candidate entered for the exams in June has until Friday to decide whether they want to take the written papers. Since yesterday, Leaving Cert 2020 candidates have also had access to the class ranking awarded to them by teachers.

Meanwhile, new figures show that 2,467 students - 4pc of the total - had five or more of their school-estimated grades lowered by the Calculated Grades offices.

One in three (34pc) - 19,596 students - had no grade lowered, while 18,584 (32pc) had one grade lowered.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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