The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the functioning of colleges and schools all over the world since March. However, these educational institutions are expected to be re-opened after August 2020. But these campuses are needed to take measures to prevent students getting affected by the pandemic.
Several countries have successfully combated the challenges brought by the pandemic. Taiwan is one of them. According to Peters Chen, Education Director of Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre (TECC) in India, “The Higher education system of Taiwan was also affected by the pandemic, just like the rest of the world. However, the Taiwanese universities came up quickly with nine key measures to combat the challenges on the basis of a survey conducted by the Association of International Cultural and Educational Exchange (AICEE) beginning June and I think this can be replicated by other colleges or schools.”
Measure 1: First of all, the college or school needs to “build a rapid response team”, led by Vice-chancellor or Principal, with key members to keep informed 24×7. The college or school also has to prepare anti-epidemic equipment.
Measure 2: Provide immediate and transparent information. Students are required to learn about the epidemic before or in the beginning of the semester, and the university should share important updates about the situation through Facebook page, LINE or What’s App messenger. “Students should feel that teachers are always available for them for any help,” said Dr Jeffrey J P Tsai, President, Asia University.
Dr. Jeffrey J P Tsai, President, Asia University
Measure 3: According to Dr I-Yu Hang, Vice President, National Sun Yat-sen University, the third measure is to “gear up protective equipment”. The University should prepare protective equipment such as surgical face masks, sanitizers, bleach, protective clothing, thermometers, etc.
Measure 4: Take risk control on campus. Entry of faculty and staff should be restricted through a single gate and their temperature checked before entering the campus.
Measure 5: According to National Chung Cheng University President Dr. Zhang Hua Fong all colleges should have “quarantine premises.” For this, each college or school should allocate a separate building so that visitors from abroad can avail such facilities.
Dr. Zhang Hua Fong, President, National Chung Cheng University
Measure 6: Improve online teaching facility. For some courses, students can attend online or blended courses. Dr. Tsai pointed out how the university used the pandemic to its advantage by incorporating online tools of learning with traditional classroom learning to provide the best available education to students. A digital learning team is needed to provide training courses or assist teachers who lacked related professional background. Teachers are guided to use template to edit their teaching materials. His university tied-up with other universities and schools abroad in order to attend students online courses from those universities too. This makes global education a reality in all levels of education.
Measure 7: Report suspected infection cases immediately. Chih Wan Kuo, Vice President for international affairs, Sun Yat-sen University stressed the importance of the college or school providing immediate care to those reported suspected cases or symptom to prevent chance of the virus spreading to other students.
Measure 8: Turn crisis into opportunities. The pandemic increased the visibility of Taiwan in the world, by its successful prevention and donation of more than 10 million Made-in-Taiwan surgical face masks to many countries. Similarly, to college or school, will help internationalization of education through Microsoft Teams or other e-solutions to sign collaborations and partnerships with universities or schools from around the world.
Measure 9: Joint efforts to safeguard the campus. It is important to make teachers, staff and students to abide by the measures taken by the management. Taiwan’s campuses were successful in protecting their students from COVID-19, as the teachers, staff and students all cooperated and followed instructions.
Jose Kalathil is a senior journalist based in New Delhi Email: Kalathil.email@example.com