CAFRE ceases face-to-face educational programmes in response to Covid-19

Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots has announced that the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (CAFRE) is to cease face-to-face delivery of all educational programmes, in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the cessation of face-to-face classes at all campuses will become effective from March 23, bringing CAFRE into line with other Further and Higher Education establishments.

Speaking about the new measures, the minister, Edwin Poots, said: “In line with the Public Health Agency and Government advice, I have decided that CAFRE should cease the face-to-face delivery of its educational programmes from Monday, March 23.

“I am taking this step in an effort to safeguard the health and well-being of students, staff and, of course, the wider public. This will take effect at all three of our campuses, which include Greenmount, Loughry and Enniskillen.

Our primary concern in the midst of these unprecedented challenges to public health and indeed the very fabric of our society is fundamentally the preservation of life.

“So, whilst this has been a very difficult decision to make, amongst the many others facing us, we take it in the knowledge that it is for the common good.

“On March 18, I had already taken the decision to stop the delivery of all Knowledge Advisory Service programmes including industry training, conferences and seminars.

“CAFRE advisers are available to support the agri-food supply chain with any technical queries they may have and can be contacted through the local DAERA Direct offices.”

‘New measures’ across forests and country parks

The minister also announced that public-facing facilities at DAERA-owned forests, country parks, nature reserves and fisheries offices will be closed until the end of May 2020.

In line with recent COVID-19 advice on social distancing, facilities such as camping amenities, museums, mobile concessions and visitor centres will be closed at all sites from March 23 until the end of May 2020.

Cafes are already closed. Daily parking charges will be waived in an effort to encourage people to use the wide-open spaces at DAERA-owned forests.

Speaking about these new measures, Minister Poots said: Society today finds itself in extremely challenging and unprecedented times. Our priority is the wellbeing of visitors, staff and the general public.”