LECTURERS HAVE BEEN asked to condense the 12-week lecture term into ten lectures, to allow for an average two-week absence due to Swine Flu. The proposal is one of several measures implemented by the newly appointed Swine Flu Committee.
Students’ Union Education Officer, Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin, told The University Observer that although “the same amount of material will be in [each] module, and the structure will be altered to allow self-directed learning.”
The Office of the President has set up the committee to deal with the consequences of a potential outbreak of the Influenza A(H1N1) virus. As well as the Flu Response Committee, there are “two sub-committees, which deal with more specific, day-to-day issues and report back to the committee,” according to SU President, Gary Redmond. Other measures include the preparation of contingency plans in each School to combat any other disruptions caused by an outbreak. Locum heads of school have been chosen should any current Head become ill and unable to work.
An information website has been compiled, as well as a poster campaign to educate students and staff on how to deal with the symptoms of Swine Flu. A hotline has been set up to advise students and staff on the identification and treatment of the illness.
As part of the new plan, a self-certification form has been introduced for students who contract the virus, in lieu of the standard extenuating circumstances form requiring a doctor’s signature.
Ó Súilleabháin has welcomed this measure, saying “students can fill out [the form] themselves if they contract the flu, as current HSE advice is to avoid GPs if you think you may have flu.” The form can only be used once, as Influenza A(H1N1) symptoms cannot be re-exhibited in previously affected individuals.
The University has already been host to an outbreak of swine flu this summer. In July, seven foreign students visiting UCD for language courses were quarantined after displaying flu-like symptoms, while SU Welfare Officer Scott Ahearn also contracted the virus after a Union of Students in Ireland training event in Waterford.
Advice for UCD students and staff pertaining to the swine flu virus can be found at the UCD influenza website, ucd.ie/influenza.