More than 70,000 antigen tests are to be handed out to students at the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) this month.
TUS began handing out the antigen tests to students at 9am yesterday morning (Thursday, Jan 13) on its Athlone campus, which reopened to students this week.
Students on TUS’s Midwest campuses (Moylish, LSAD, Thurles, Clonmel and Ennis) will receive free antigen kits from next Monday when semester two commences.
Under the scheme, each student will receive five tests to help manage the spread of the current variant of Covid-19.
The scheme forms part of the government’s €9 million fund to make antigen testing easily accessible to third-level students.
“The availability of antigen tests on campus is part of our arsenal of measures to protect students and ensure they can continue their studies on site for semester two,” explained TUS President Professor Vincent Cunnane.
“While our students have been excellent in observing public health guidance and complying with on-campus health and safety protocols, the current strain of Covid-19, though less virulent, is particularly transmissible.
“Rapid antigen testing is a simple self-test for Covid-19, with results available in just 15 minutes; it’s an extra layer of protection on top of current health measures and practices that will help students monitor their health and protect themselves and others.”
Echoing this, Vice President for Student Education and Experience at TUS Frances O’Connell said, “Education is an essential service and we’ve seen a high return of students to the Athlone campus this week following the Christmas break. Our students want to continue to fully engage in their studies on campus, as they did last semester, through the implementation of a robust safe return to campus framework by TUS.”
She continued: “This initiative ensures that they can check that they are COVID-19 free, and by so doing, ensure their immediate safety, and that of their families, friends, and our TUS community, enabled by antigen testing.
“Antigen testing is integral to ensuring our campuses can continue to remain open for students this semester and to get the maximum benefit from their university education, which includes a robust student experience on campus.”
“From today onwards, antigen test kits can be collected at designated locations across our campuses; students should check their student emails for specific instructions. I would like to thank the TUS Students’ Union for their assistance with the distribution of antigen tests to our student community.”
Welcoming the move, Áine Daly, TUS SU president, said, “Students having access to free antigen tests on campus is of huge benefit to our student body and our society as a whole. Cost has always presented itself as a large barrier for students who have done the utmost to ensure that there are keeping themselves and their community safe.
“By being afforded, this provision will ensure that everyone can follow the government guidelines by taking a test when it’s required or showing symptoms or as a weekly measure as a precaution to stay ahead of this pandemic.”
Students at TUS’s Athlone campus can collect their antigen testing kits from the TUS Students’ Union, the university library and the engineering building atrium.
Details on the distribution locations for the Midwest campuses will issue to all students on their return next week.
Earlier this week, more than 210 TUS students and staff received their booster vaccinations at a HSE pop-up clinic on the technological university’s Athlone campus.