SIPTU representatives have said that the decision to keep third level lectures online for the rest of the academic year provides certainty for staff and students. SIPTU Education Sector Organiser, Karl Byrne, said: “We welcome the certainty being brought to students and staff with confirmation that lectures will remain online for the rest of the academic year. The education unions of ICTU in the third level sector have been involved in engagements with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science over recent days. These meetings focused on the approach which is to be taken for the rest of the academic year in further and higher education.”  “The universities, institutes of technology and further education institutes have remained open throughout Level 5 of the Covid-19 restrictions and have continued to deliver high level quality tuition. The guiding focus of SIPTU representatives throughout this pandemic has been on the health and safety of staff and students. We welcome the commitment by government to provide increased supports for students and an emphasis on sports and recreational activities should the public health advice allow into the future.” He added: “However, we will continue to insist that any expansion of small group or in-person teaching must adhere fully to the public health guidelines and the implementation of two metre social distancing must be consistent across all institutions. We also recognise the significantly increased workload associated with the delivery of blended learning.”