The two months since the semester began online on April 20 have seemed to fly by. I am sure you are all diligently pursuing your studies while adjusting to the “new normal”, in your various locations.
While some countries, including Japan, have begun phased resumption of social and economic activities in many countries, the pandemic shows no sign of decline. Indeed, in Japan, as well, we must be wary of the possibility of a second and third wave of infections. I want to take this opportunity to reiterate that our ongoing struggle with this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic may continue for years.
Looking toward the Fall 2020 Semester, we have searched exhaustively for a way to make it possible to welcome you to campus and we have explored the question from every angle. However, while we would like to be able to meet the desire of all of you who wish to return to campus, in order to establish the university’s safety measures, we need to rationally consider and analyze all conditions and circumstances while also considering what could happen in a worst-case scenario.
AIU’s unique characteristics, including our discussion-based classes, shared living on campus, cafeteria, and active clubs and circles, mean that, in the course of one day of studies and student life, each student comes into close contact with a significant number of others. Under normal circumstances, this is one of AIU’s strengths and plays a key role in developing students’ social skills and preparedness for society. However, these same characteristics mean that if one student were to become infected with COVID-19, which has an asymptomatic, contagious incubation period of up to two weeks, the possibility of the development of an infection cluster is extremely high. Additionally, since AIU already sees an average of 40 cases of seasonal influenza each year, we must carefully prepare measures to be able to quarantine or shelter students to prevent a chaotic situation.
Based on consideration of AIU’s unique circumstances as well as various guidelines from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, we have reached the conclusion that we must reduce the number of students on campus to approximately half of the usual number. Therefore, during the fall semester, courses will be provided in online or parallel (simultaneous online and in-class) format so that students will be able to enroll and study, regardless of their location. We anticipate that very few classes will be conducted completely face-to-face. We ask your understanding that this was the only way that we can continue to provide a safe environment as well as offer the courses students need to be able to graduate without undue obstacles.
Additionally, please understand that the Matriculation Ceremony will be held on Sunday, September 6 and classes will start on Monday, September 7. Details about the Matriculation Ceremony will be sent separately.
Please note that I ask for you to understand that these decisions are subject to change based on the state of the COVID-19 infections within Japan from this point forward. Throughout the world, universities are facing unprecedented difficulties due to this COVID-19 pandemic. I hope all of you are approaching this “new normal” with flexibility and fortitude while also anticipating a better future. On behalf of all of the faculty and staff at Akita International University, I want to express our strong determination to overcome this danger together.
Akita International University