• お問い合わせ
  • アクセス
  • 検索
  • Language
  1. YNU
  2. Headlines
  3. On the Resumption of In-person Classes (Including Experiments) Required for Graduation in the Fall Semester 2020

On the Resumption of In-person Classes (Including Experiments) Required for Graduation in the Fall Semester 2020

September 28, 2020

Dear YNU Students

Yuichi Hasebe
President, Yokohama National University

I will explain the basic policy for the fall semester including the process and background leading to this policy from the spring semester.

Where We Are and a Word of Thanks
In order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the entrance ceremony was cancelled and the start of classes for the spring semester was postponed to Thursday, May 7, with all classes conducted online initially. Subsequently, with the lifting of the “state of emergency” and “self-restraint of travel between prefectures”, in-person classes resumed for courses required for graduating students in the undergraduate and graduate programs (practical training, experiments, etc.) on condition that they take place for a short period and in a dispersed environment. (see Measures after the Relax of Travel Restriction among Prefectures, June 26) Groups conforming to the “Guidelines on the Resumption of Extracurricular Activities” (June 26, in Japanese) have also been allowed to resume extracurricular activities in stages. At the same time, we also strived to heed your voices from letters to the YNU Student Advisory Service and other offices, student-led opinion surveys conducted online, and efforts by faculty members, while I also did my best to listen to you directly.

What we learned during this process is that in such a work environment in which almost all classes are conducted online, you all had a hard time both physically and mentally, especially for the first year students who have not been able to set foot on the campus even once and have not been able to make any friends in person. I pay my heartfelt respect to all of you who have worked earnestly even under such difficult circumstances and to those of you who take part in extracurricular activities despite serious restrictions. I can also imagine that faculty members who have had to conduct all classes online for the first time must have been inconvenienced. Yet, through your understanding and cooperation, we were able to complete the classes for the spring semester successfully. Your comments and feedback on online classes will continue to be passed on to the faculty members in order for improvements to be made. I would like to thank you once again for your cooperation.

During the spring semester, we also launched the YNU Emergency Study SUpport Package(YNU E-SSUP)to support the students’ working environment and give emergency livelihood support, using funds not only from government subsidies and YNU’s budget, but also from substantial donations from your parents, alumni, alumni associations, the local community, and the faculty members. I would like to thank all the donors and at the same time inform the students that we will continue to use the donations received to support you in the fall semester.

Policy on Resumption of In-person Classes
Classes for the fall semester will start at the YNU on Oct. 5. As announced earlier, while most classes will basically still be conducted online in the semester, YNU has issued a policy that “some of the mandatory classes (such as lab experiment classes) required for graduation/degree completion may be held in an in-person setting, provided that maximum measures are taken to prevent the spread of infection” to allow holding in-person classes (experiments and practical and technical training) even for non-graduating students who require certain courses to move up to the next year. (see “Policy for Fall Semester Classes - Classes will be held online as a general rule -”, July 28)

However, the pandemic has remained globally from August, and the situation remains serious in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area as well. While no one has been found infected within the YNU campus, as of this date, approximately 50 students have been found infected (24) or identified as having a close contact with infected persons. Unfortunately, we have been reported many cases of dinner parties off-campus, even though we have requested not to have such gatherings. Recently, cases of infection from close contact with family members have been found, which have affected the reopened experiments and practical training courses.

In the light of these serious and lingering situations, based on guidelines on how to provide a truly safe and secure learning environment for those participating in in-person classes, YNU has asked all colleges to draw up teaching plans for classes involving experiments and practical and technical training which can only be conducted in person in line with the above policy. These plans will be scrutinized by doctors and crisis management experts before in-person classes resume.

We take into account the fact that university students face substantially higher risks of infection compared to elementary, middle, and high school students because they commute and move within wider areas, and attendees in each class also vary constantly and they move around extensively on campus. Each teaching plan will be examined closely on the following: whether the space and capacity of the classroom can allow proper distancing that will not result in the “Three Cs” (dividing a class into several groups, using separate classrooms, and staggered class slots, for example); whether safety measures, such as proper ventilation of classrooms and laboratories, wearing masks (or face shields, if necessary), and disinfection, are adequate; whether daily health monitoring, such as body temperature checks, is mandatory and its effectiveness is ensured; whether classes are scheduled in a way that congestion in public transportation can be avoided when commuting; whether measures are taken to provide a safe environment in case students have to eat lunch; and, in case anybody who attended a class is found infected, whether the infected persons’ movements can be traced with certainty and a proper flow plan is in place to prevent contact in the group to minimize infection clusters. These plans will be reviewed and revised until their necessity and safety are established, until they meet all the conditions, and safety measures are deemed to be adequate before in-person classes resume.

Please refer to announcements on the YNU Learning Management System and other means that have been posted from early September for the specific courses and class procedures.

Related Initiatives
Since the spring semester, several online programs have been launched for your physical and mental health including the radio gymnastics, stretching, and muscle building, as well as “YNU Be Fine! Program” where you can see snapshots of the campus online. In addition to these ongoing initiatives, in the fall semester, we are planning online exchange sessions and interviews for first year students (in-person classes will take priority if they are being conducted). Please check out notices from your faculties on these programs.

At the University library, in addition to the current service that has been limited to circulation only, browsing has become available gradually from Sept. 23 after full safety measures have been taken. As a precaution, browsing will only be allowed by appointment. See the library webpage for more details. Furthermore, the on-demand video distribution server ESVOD developed by YNU’s College of Engineering Science will be upgraded for university-wide use in the fall semester, with an eye on the international standardization of hybrid teaching methods and curricula in university education. Work to resolve ventilation problems at certain classroom blocks and improve the Wi-Fi environment in classrooms will be completed during the current academic year.

Despite our taking all the necessary measures to provide a safe and secure environment, the outlook of the pandemic in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area remains critical. The approach of fall when the influenza epidemic is parallelly expected may render the situation even worse. Based on data from various surveys conducted in the spring semester on students in various colleges and years at different times, some 20-30% of YNU students have stay away from Kanagawa Prefecture. Furthermore, while some students would like to have in-person classes, other students have voiced the bitter opinion that they are afraid or unwilling to attend classes held in Kanagawa Prefecture or Yokohama. Following such opinions, alternative measures will be taken in case students are unable to attend in-person classes. Concrete measures will be implemented at an appropriate time and in a suitable manner based on student attendance data at in-person classes. Please check out the Learning Management System and other sites and consult your colleges if you need more information.

On Strengthening Education and Research in the Future
As stated above, YNU plans not only to hold in-person classes but also step up other initiatives in the fall semester. I believe that ideally, university, as an academic community, should be built through educational, research, extracurricular, and other activities, as well as exchanges between students, faculty members, alumni, and the local community, and it is through this process that students achieve human growth. I cannot deny that the development of this academic community is being impeded by the current novel coronavirus pandemic while prospects remain uncertain for the development of vaccines and treatments. However, I believe that this era of “new normal” has provided us with an opportunity to take a second look at the University’s mission. Toward this end, we would like to put your opinions to good use by creating a new organization to examine the role of university education in the future. It is also precisely in this era of “new normal” that the University’s world renowned advanced high-level research activities and its pragmatic research efforts in answer to the needs of the industrial sector, local governments, and other fields will attract greater attention. We will make greater efforts to use videos and other media to actively publicize these activities to increase the opportunities for the public to be acquainted with them, in order to deepen their understanding of the YNU.

Based on our experience with the above initiatives, we are currently reviewing our teaching methods and curricula in order to facilitate in-person classes as much as possible in academic year 2021 making effective use of online classes and giving top priority to the students’ security and safety, while this will be affected by how the coronavirus pandemic develops. During the next academic year, we will also take advantage of the new degree program system to set up a new program across the boundaries of graduate schools, the Interfaculty Graduate School of Innovative and Practical Studies (max 42 persons), and expand the Graduate School of Education’s “Degree Program in Advanced Practical Teacher Education” (Professional School for Teacher Education) (increasing the capacity from 15 to 60 persons), as well as start new educational programs in which students can earn a master’s degree and a doctoral degree in five years: the DSEP (Data Science Educational Program) with 20 places (10 students from the College of Economics and 10 from the College of Business Administration) and the LBEEP (Lawcal Business Economics Educational Program) with 10 persons (all from the College of Business Administration).

In the current academic year, the pandemic has seriously impacted research activities some of which have been suspended. However, partly thanks to YNU’s cumulative achievements, a faculty member has been appointed the project manager of Goal #6 (quantum computing) of the national government’s major Moonshot Research and Development Program. YNU’s unique educational program, the ROUTE(Research Opportunities for Undergradua TEs)Project, which has been cited in the Diet of Japan, received the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology award. Several YNU students and faculty members also received awards at online international conferences and academic meetings in Japan. These have all become valuable assets of the University. Despite the epidemic, works and researches at YNU are making steady progress.

YNU’s defining feature is that mutually stimulating advanced high-level interdisciplinary educational and research activities unfold at one single lush green campus. We, the faculty members, fervently hope to see you and talk to you in person at this campus as soon as possible.

My Appeal
Lastly, and once again, I request all students to be conscious of their social responsibility and strive to protect your beloved family members and friends by “taking actions to protect yourself.” Yet, it is still fully possible that you may catch the virus or come into close contact with infected persons. In that case, do not hesitate to report to the Health Service Center (045-335-1518) immediately. Avoid getting infected and avoid infecting others, and if you still get infected or come into close contact with infected persons, report immediately. This will not have any negative effect on your classes and grades.

On top of the risk posed by the spread of the novel coronavirus, typhoons, earthquakes, and other unexpected natural disasters may affect your current place of residence. Even if online classes might be taking place, if you need to evacuate or are affected by disasters, please give top priority to taking action to keep yourself safe. You can consult the relevant offices at YNU later.

There are various offices at the YNU that can provide support. I am sure you may feel anxious and troubled with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. You don’t have to endure this alone. Do not hesitate to talk to us.

Student Support and Contact新しいウィンドウが開きます