The Future of Nagoya University Policy During the Novel Coronavirus Infectious Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic
1. Government and Aichi Prefecture Responses and Nagoya University's Mindset
At present, Aichi Prefecture seems to be having success in limiting the spread of infection, and the rate of new infections is being kept quite low. However, Aichi Prefecture remains a region under the state of emergency on both prefectural and national levels. Furthermore, Aichi Prefecture has not lifted its request to close universities and large business establishments. There is a general movement towards debating a path forward (towards a loosening of stay-at-home and closure requests) due to the heavy economic impact; however, on a national level, there are not as of yet any clear guidelines or criteria for relaxing these requests. It has been reported that such an announcement will be made on or around May 14. In Aichi Prefecture, there is a movement towards reopening schools, with elementary and middle schools scheduled to tentatively reopen starting May 21. However, the end of Golden Week presents an opportunity for the virus to rapidly spread, and we must continue to work together with the prefecture and the national government to rededicate ourselves to limiting the spread of infection.
Nagoya University's current limitations on activities present a great hardship and cause for concern for our students, faculty and staff, and other university members. We, too, hope that activities at Nagoya University can return to normal as soon as possible. However, it is vitally important that we act in concert with the country and the prefecture in response to the current crisis, and we ask for your understanding and cooperation in this regard. We must prepare ourselves for the days ahead, and to that end, I would like to share with the entire Nagoya University community our current policy.
2. Nagoya University's Activities Level
Aichi Prefecture remains a "region under special alert" under the state of emergency declaration, and Aichi Prefecture has not yet lifted its request for the temporary closure of universities and large business establishments. Therefore, Nagoya University's Alert Category shall remain at "Category C" (Emergency). Specific Activities Levels shall also remain at their present levels. Nagoya University will maintain these levels until Sunday, May 31.
If future infection trends are such that conditions change on a prefectural or national level before May 31, Nagoya University will swiftly move to respond by adjusting the Alert Category or Specific Activities Levels as necessary. However, sudden or frequent changes may backfire and cause greater confusion; therefore, we will proceed with caution, with each undergraduate and graduate school or department having some leeway to respond flexibly to present conditions.
3. Formulating Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) for Each Undergraduate/Graduate School and Department
We will renew our request to each undergraduate and graduate school or department to formulate and report BCP for various scenarios (to be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org). I ask in particular that you consider measures to be taken to ensure continuity throughout the entire spring semester should the University remain at Category C, for example due to a spike in infections. That being said, if the situation allows, we may lower our Activities Levels, so please also consider a BCP to be enacted for moving towards a return to normal activities.
The Central Administration is having particular difficulty grasping the current state of affairs in technical and professional education, such as laboratory and practical training courses. The Education and International Affairs Department will be aggregating information to respond to cases where a major problem is identified in such courses. To that end, I will ask the Education and International Affairs Department to conduct an investigation into the situation, so I hope that you will contribute to their survey in what ways you can. Those who are seeking appropriate measures to take with regard to technical and professional education may be interested in reviewing the steps taken by the School of Medicine; some aspects may be too specific to help everyone, but the measures taken to address student instruction may prove helpful to you. (Video, Documents)
4. Supporting Student Education and Livelihood
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not only closed our campuses; it has also greatly impacted the daily lives of our students. As a first step to supporting students, Nagoya University has enacted a Student Support Plan to assist students who live away from home and are not otherwise receiving special assistance. Such students can receive a flat payment of 30,000 yen to help defray their basic living expenses. Of course, this alone is not sufficient, and so we will consider second and third steps to student support as necessary. At that time, significant financial resources will become necessary. To address this demand, Nagoya University established a Coronavirus Response Fund at the end of April, and we are currently seeking donations from both within and outside the University. We greatly appreciate the contributions of all Nagoya University members.
At Nagoya University, we have rolled out distance learning in the form of online classes; however, this has not come without difficulty. Students who lack internet access or otherwise do not have an adequate IT environment are at risk of being left behind. At present, our on-campus access points have been shuttered, and there are students who have difficulty attending real-time online classes. To assist these students, our undergraduate and graduate schools are currently lending out Wi-fi routers. To our undergraduate and graduate schools, I ask your cooperation and assistance, and if you have any recommendations or suggestions about ways to support our students in their studies and everyday lives, please contact the Central Administration.
5. Webinar: Nagoya University's Vision for a Post-Corona World
As we cope with the worldwide calamity that is the coronavirus pandemic, we expect that the post-coronavirus world will be drastically different, and the trends towards change that we have seen thus far will likely only accelerate. How will education change in each field? What will stay the same? What vision should Nagoya University have for education, research, societal contribution, and international exchange in a post-coronavirus world, and how should we move forward with that vision? This is the time to have an unvarnished public discussion across many fields of expertise, and to that end, we will build a platform in the form of a webinar where people of all stripes--young and old, in all fields and occupations--can participate. If you believe you can play a role in building this new future, please join the conversation.
President Seiichi Matsuo