Message from the President: About the Classes Starting in April 2021
Although it is mid-February, we have yet to see the end of COVID-19 infections and our society is still under its impact. I respect all of you who diligently engaged in your studies amid this unprecedented situation and thank you for your cooperation and understanding.
Since last December, when we announced our plans for the next academic year, we are facing a challenging situation, with the declaration of a State of Emergency in the Tokyo Metropolitan area and its extension. The university has carefully discussed and prepared for the new academic year, taking into account these recent developments.
Classes starting in April will be conducted for the most part in person, but on-demand classes will be given for courses with a large number of registrants and online classes will be offered to accommodate the features of the faculty or program and special health conditions. Since some students may not be able to join classes in person under the current circumstances, Hy-flex classes (∗) will also be widely offered.
(∗) Hy-flex classes: classes where some students can join from outside campus via Zoom
As it would be difficult to offer in-person classes in those faculties in which many international students facing entry restrictions are enrolled, namely the Faculty of Liberal Arts, the English-based program at the Faculty of Science and Technology, the Sophia Program for Sustainable Futures (SPSF), the Graduate Program in Global Studies and the Graduate Program in Global Environmental Studies, these faculties will start the academic year mainly with online classes and gradually shift to in-person classes, as restrictions are lifted.
In our preparations for the new academic year, we have built a system in which we can protect your health and safety, while not keeping you from learning. It has been challenging to explore new roles of a university, using both the physical university campus and online education. The spring semester will hold more opportunities to learning on campus, and therefore we must ask everyone on campus to be ever caring for and consider to others.
A university is comprised of various individuals. Some may have a pre-existing condition and may have a potential risk of increased severity of symptoms or may have family with similar risks, some may be denied entry into Japan, and others may be facing serious economic conditions. We must not forget those faced with great anxiety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot pursue research and education activities on campus without taking measures to understand and ameliorate their anxieties. Rules and regulations are not enough to achieve this. This can only be achieved when a campus is filled with consideration for others.
Sophia University will continue to make the best efforts to offer the most appropriate learning environment, prioritizing the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff under changing circumstances brought by COVID-19. We expect that you will pursue your student life, following our educational philosophy of "for Others, with Others" and proudly demonstrating to those around you that you are being responsible to others at university, family, your neighborhood and even the world in your student life.
I look very much forward to meeting you again on campus in April. Let us overcome these current difficulties calmly together, through responsible actions taken by each individual.
- Classes will be given in person, on demand (using videos and course materials, such as PowerPoint files), live (simultaneous and interactive classes using Zoom) or combining the above. In-person classes with registrants who cannot join in person due to various circumstances, will be offer as Hy-flex classes (mainly offered in person, with some students joining on Zoom from outside campus).
- Students who prefer to join classes on online due to health and other reasons should consult with the university. They will not be able to choose particular courses or days to join in person. Procedures will be posted on Loyola at a later time.
- Current students will be informed of the format each course will take (in-person, on-demand, etc.) in the syllabi to be made available on March 15. New students will be informed in the Guidance to be held at the beginning of the semester.
- The format of course offerings are subject to change in accordance with the status of COVID-19 infections before and after the new academic year begins.
Infection prevention measures on campus
In AY2021, we will welcome a large number of students on campus. The university has been preparing your learning environment and introducing additional measures to prevent infections for the new academic year through refurbishments to reinforce ventilation equipment in our classrooms, taking preventive measures against airborne droplets. We will also introduce new rules to be followed by all campus members to reduce anxieties and create a safe campus.
The Sophia New Normal rules and instructions will be announced before the Spring Semester starts.
∗ Details of the measures described below are subject to change in accordance with future developments of the pandemic.
♦ AY2021 Measures to Prevent COVID-19 Infections
1. Entrance to campus and overall measures
- At Yotsuya Campus, students are asked to enter through the North Gate. Temperature checks will conducted using a thermographic camera and those whose temperature is 37.5°C or higher will be denied entry.
- Antiseptic handrubs can be found at all gates, all entrances to each building, and cafeterias.
2. Classroom allocation
- Classrooms will basically allocated according to the new classroom capacity rules, in order to secure distance between seats.
- Classroom capacities have been determined so that the ventilation requirement of 30m³ ventilation per person per hour recommended by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare can be met by mechanical ventilation.
- Necessary ventilation equipment and CO2 sensors will be installed during AY2020.
- In order to secure an adequate number of classrooms, some conference rooms will be used as classrooms.
- Seating will be arranged in way that distancing is ensured, with acrylic boards installed as required.
- Detailed rules will be determined regarding the use of the Learning Commons, group study rooms, AV corner, etc.
- Measures may be taken to limit entry, depending on the level of congestion.
4. Cafeterias and eating meals
- The number of seats will be reduced to a level that will ensure social distancing and ventilation.
- Acrylic boards will be installed where seating is face to face.
- Hand antisepsis and silence during eating is strongly requested.
- Cafeterias will take various measures in order to prevent congestion, including offering a wider variety of items to go, requesting users to leave quickly after finishing their meals and offering a limited number of eat-in items.
5. Internet environment
- An increased number of Wi-Fi hotspots will be made available. The Internet network will be reinforced to enable connection by twice the number of users.
- Equipment will be installed in each classroom to accommodate Hy-flex classes.
- Wi-fi hotspots will be increased in some classrooms, the library, cafeterias (outside lunch hour) and piloti for use in accessing on-demand classes.
Request for students
- Students entering campus are required to wear a mask at all times. Students are asked to maintain social distancing, wash and sterilize their hand and fingers, and manage their personal health, including taking their temperature before leaving home.
- Students are asked to wear a mask at all times and carry portable antiseptic handrubs and disinfectant wipes for personal use.
- Meals, which are taken with mask off, are said to entail the highest risk of infection. Students are asked to follow the infection prevention rules, including silent eating and sterilization, compiled by the university.
- Even when in-person classes are resumed, some courses may continue to be offered online and in-person classes may be changed to online classes depending on the status of infection or the discovery of infected persons on campus. Students are asked to secure adequate Internet access at home and other equipment required for an online class, including a laptop, tablets, earphones with microphones.
- Extracurricular activities are scheduled to be resumed after the State of Emergency Declaration has been lifted. Students will be notified of how extracurricular activities will be pursued in the new academic year and of how Freshman Week will be operated, in accordance with the status of infections.