Notice Governing Exercises for Colleges’ and Universities’ Suspension and Resumption of Classes in Response to COVID-19 and Teaching Adjustments for the Epidemic Prevention Response Measures
- Schools shall take epidemic prevention as a priority by measures such as following the instructions from the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), the class suspension and resumption of confirmed cases, and the adjustment of teaching methods and exercises in response to epidemic prevention, and taking control of the movement of faculty and students to protect the community. Avoiding a breach of epidemic prevention is not only the most important principle but also the social responsibility of the universities. Colleges and universities that suspend classes and conduct an epidemic prevention exercise for teaching in response to epidemic prevention should all be cautiously arranged and explained through a public announcement. The students’ learning situations should be well managed and entering and exiting public places should be avoided.
- The ‘Distance Learning Precautions for Colleges and Universities in Response to the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)’ was previously notified by the Ministry of Education (MOE) on March 19, 2020, and was announced through a press release on March 21 and was adjusted to the ‘Notice Governing Exercises for Colleges’ and Universities’ Suspension and Resumption of Classes in Response to COVID-19 and Teaching Adjustments for the Epidemic Prevention Response Measures’ according to the epidemic. In addition, the MOE categorizes epidemic preventative measures into three types: ‘Schools’ Teaching Methods Adjustments and Exercises in Response to the Epidemic Prevention’, ‘Schools’ Suspension and Resumption of Classes in Response to Confirmed Cases’, and ‘Schools’ Suspension and Resumption of Classes per the Instructions from the CECC’ in accordance with the aforementioned notice, and these are based on the risk levels from low to high. The explanations are as follows:
- Schools’ Teaching Methods Adjustments and Exercises in Response to the Epidemic Prevention
As the semester is already in progress, schools need to comply with the epidemic prevention needs to take control of students’ attendance and provide excellent teaching and learning qualities. Only when a school is in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, the teaching methods can be adjusted or schools can conduct an epidemic prevention exercise for teaching under the aforementioned premise.
- Adjusting teaching methods: in accordance with the instructions announced by the CECC, personnel should maintain an appropriate social distance required by the epidemic prevention for both indoors and outdoors (1.5 meters for indoors, 1 meter for outdoors). A mask should be worn if the social distance cannot be maintained. For teaching large classes of over 100 people (or the upper limit of indoor gathering regulated by the CECC), and courses where it is difficult to maintain social distancing in the classroom, schools should immediately facilitate the environment or adjust the teaching methods by adopting epidemic preventative measures such as everyone wearing a mask all of the time, separating students into multiple classes, or conducting distance learning. Priority should also be given to improving teaching and learning activities with higher risks such as poorly ventilated classrooms or indoor places. The aforementioned measures are conducted and supervised by the school, and reporting to the MOE is not required. If the CECC announces a follow-up update on regulations such as an upper limit for the number of people in indoor gatherings, social distancing, or ventilation, the schools must proceed by following the latest announcement from the CECC.
- Conducting an epidemic prevention exercise for teaching
- In order to decrease the impact on a school’s teaching, faculty and student life, and the community’s environment, schools shall prioritize conducting a small-scale epidemic prevention exercise for teaching and then gradually moving forward. First utilize the class hours during a weekday to focus on a school’s departments or courses to adjust teaching methods by groups, intervals, or rotations. Reporting to the MOE is not required.
- If a school conducts an epidemic prevention exercise for the entire campus, the entire college, or the entire department, the maximum duration is one week in principle. For an exercise exceeding 3 days, a plan of the epidemic prevention exercise for teaching should be first reported to the MOE. The exercise’s implementation result should be also reported to the MOE upon the completion of the exercise.
- An epidemic prevention exercise for teaching should prevent students from gathering in the surrounding communities or in any place which causes a breach of epidemic prevention. Thus, after schools adjust their teaching methods, students’ movement should be under control. Schools should remind students to honestly record after school activities such as trips, hangouts, and other gathering activities during an epidemic prevention exercise for teaching in order to facilitate the possible future cooperation of epidemic investigations. If a campus epidemic prevention breach is caused by any undisclosed information, the individual will be held responsible under the regulations governing awards and penalties for schools.
- Although teaching methods may be adjusted, the health maintenance of the students during their semesters still remains the school's responsibility. During an epidemic prevention exercise for teaching, schools should pay attention to the students' daily temperature measurements, and upload them to the schools’ reporting system daily, and care about students’ physical and mental health. As necessary, schools should contact the students to confirm the learning situation and ensure the effectiveness of study.
- According to the CECC’s instructions on nationals traveling across borders and participating in public gatherings, faculty and students should avoid non-essential and non-urgent international travel during epidemic prevention exercises for teaching. In addition, faculty and students should carefully evaluate before participating in domestic gathering activities, and schools should fully understand the potential risk level, such as the participants’ information and conditions of the event venue. Faculty and students should avoid highly crowded gathering places, and alternatively consider participating in the event after the epidemic is over.
- In response to the needs of the epidemic, administration units at all levels in schools must cooperate together to implement the response measures. Therefore, during the epidemic prevention exercise for teaching, in addition to students, schools must arrange sufficient and proper faculty and staff to go to schools to maintain a campus’s epidemic prevention conditions and to provide related teaching assistance. Moreover, schools should still provide campus library equipment and devices for faculty and students to utilize under the circumstances of no concerns during epidemic prevention.
- Schools should organize related training courses and consult channels and assist faculty to be familiar with the operations before schools conduct an epidemic prevention exercise for teaching. If distance learning is adopted, schools should provide supportive digital teaching assistants (TA) to provide immediate assistance to facilitate the faculty’s courses preparations and manage students’ attendance.
- In order to fulfill both the needs of the exercise and the effectiveness of learning, and in case an epidemic prevention exercise for teaching encounters hands-on courses, it is more appropriate to prioritize conducting classes with a physical presence. If distance learning is adopted, it is better to utilize methods of synchronous online learning, or adopt blended teaching methods with asynchronous teaching materials and synchronous online interactive discussions.
- To ensure students’ learning effectiveness, if distance learning is adopted during an epidemic prevention exercise for teaching, schools need to pay attention to each learning aspect such as students’ online attendance, the situation of class viewing and class discussions, as well as evaluation methods. Lastly, schools need to utilize auxiliary software to keep related records for future audits.
- Schools’ Suspension and Resumption of Classes in Response to Confirmed Cases
According to the MOE’s standards of class suspension and the regulations of epidemic prevention guidelines, if schools discover a suspected case (or cases) who is faculty staff or a student, and have verified the fact of contact with other faculty and students on campus, measures in response to epidemic prevention must be commenced immediately such as notifying procedures, health management measures, teaching methods adjustments, facility sanitization and sterilization, care of faculty and students, and school must assist local government health units to conduct an epidemic investigation. If the case (or cases) is listed as a confirmed case by the CECC, schools should proceed to commence class suspension according to the results of the epidemic investigation and the MOE’s class suspension standards while at the same time reporting to the MOE. Schools should take epidemic prevention as the priority and take control of the movement of faculty and students to protect the community, and the most important principle is avoiding a breach of epidemic prevention. Related adjustments to teaching methods are carried out under the supervision of schools, and reporting to the MOE is not required.
- In order to adhere to epidemic prevention needs during the period of class suspension due to the epidemic, schools need to explain items such as health education on self-health management, class suspension and resumption, and teaching methods of makeup classes for the follow-up teaching. In addition, schools should take control of faculty and students’ conditions on home isolation, home quarantine or self-health management. The MOE will produce relevant health education information for students’ reference and provide epidemic prevention guidance to faculty and staff, and clearly list items to comply with.
- Schools should remind all faculty and students that during a class suspension period they must follow the regulations of ‘Measures for Following Up on Persons at Risk of Infection‘ announced by the CECC to avoid the imposition of penalties. Among students conducting self-health management, schools should request them to avoid traveling, hanging out, and participating in other gathering activities. Any travel must be recorded honestly. If a campus epidemic prevention breach is caused by any undisclosed information, the individual will be held responsible under the regulations governing awards and penalties for schools.
- The health maintenance of the students during their semesters still remains the school's responsibility. During the class suspension period, schools should pay attention to the students' daily temperature measurements and upload them to the schools’ reporting system every day. Schools should actively remind individuals who have any respiratory infectious symptoms to report proactively, to start self-management as early as possible and to seek medical attention immediately.
- During the class suspension period, schools should prioritize allocating resources to faculty and students’ health management and campus epidemic prevention measures. Therefore, for adjustments to teaching methods, schools should not only conduct distance learning with synchronous and asynchronous online courses, but also undertake weekday makeup classes after the classes resume under the principle of 1 credit for 18 hours to maintain both teaching quality and flexibility.
- For relevant courses such as laboratories, internships, or hands-on practice which cannot be held in distance learning mode during the class suspension period, schools can use a weekday or postpone them to the summer vacation for makeup classes with a physical presence.
- In accordance with the needs of the epidemic, administration units at all levels in schools must cooperate to implement the response measures. Therefore, during the period of class suspension, in addition to students, schools must arrange sufficient and proper faculty and staff to go to school to maintain campuses’ epidemic prevention conditions and provide related teaching assistance.
- If the credits earned from distance learning courses exceed a certain ratio of the total credits required for graduating caused by schools’ class suspension and adjustments of teaching, these special cases should be reported to the MOE according to ‘Implementation Regulations Regarding Distance Learning by Junior Colleges and Institutions of Higher Education’ and reviewed flexibly. Schools should supervise and manage other distance learning matters and control teaching quality. Prior reporting to the MOE is not required.
- Before the class suspension period is over and students start to return to school, schools should follow the epidemic preventative measures listed in the MOE’s epidemic prevention guidelines. Schools should focus on monitoring, sanitization and sterilization, ventilation, and response, and ensure the implementation of these four major measures step by step.
- Schools’ Suspension and Resumption of Classes per the Instructions from the CECC
According to the epidemic development, if the CECC finds the need to suspend classes in a region or nation-wide, schools should comply with the result of the epidemic investigation and the instructions from the CECC to commence class suspension and notify to the MOE at the same time.
- The announcement time and implementation period of the suspension of classes shall be handled according to the instructions issued by the CECC. All schools shall not determine the epidemic situation by themselves and shall not announce the suspension of classes directly. In follow-up, the MOE will produce relevant health education information, clearly listing items to comply with for students’ reference, and provide epidemic prevention guides to faculty and staff.
- During the class suspension period for schools, the MOE will notify the schools to cooperate with the management of campus-stationed personnel, home restrictions, adjustments of teaching, and the preparation of class resumption according to the instructions of the CECC.