Life on and off campus was greatly restricted in the 2020 academic year due to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease). I wish to express my sincere admiration to everyone for the efforts you have made to follow measures to prevent infections and continue with your studies, despite the anxiety you must have felt in these restrictive circumstances.
In the wake of the state of emergency declared by the government last spring, Keio University temporarily closed its campuses and switched to an online format for classes. Afterward, safety measures were put in place to gradually reopen university facilities for use, including classrooms for self-study, libraries, cafeterias, and gymnasiums, as well as to restart extracurricular activities, and in the Fall Semester some classes were again held on campus.
The government has once more declared a state of emergency due to the increasing number of COVID-19 infections, and the prospect of the pandemic being brought under control still remains uncertain. Despite this, faculty, staff, and other relevant parties came together to ensure that applicants to the university would be able to take the general entrance examinations in February safely, devising various infection countermeasures and systems to conduct the exams. Thanks to these efforts, the examinations could go ahead on campus. In April, the university will be welcoming a new cohort of students, each full of dreams and aspirations.
While carefully observing developments in the COVID-19 situation, preparations are underway for the first semester of the 2021 academic year so that students can get together on campus and thoroughly experience learning at Keio in all its forms.
Although the sudden switch to an online format for all classes in the Spring Semester of the 2020 academic year caused significant confusion at the time, the university could successfully conduct various class styles, including on-demand and interactive class formats, by providing support for students to improve their communication environments at home, and by consolidating the infrastructure for online teaching at the university by strengthening the network and improving the Class Support system. These experiences have brought to light the continuous benefits of online teaching, including being freed from the constraints of time and distance and the possibilities for iterative learning and interactive debates.Moreover, Keio students unable to travel to the university for whatever reason can continue their studies.
Here on out, the university will devise ways to reduce the burden on faculty members and students and test out various hybrid-style class formats to keep on improving the quality of teaching for face-to-face and online classes.
Furthermore, the university will continue its efforts to provide financial support to Keio students who are facing difficulties in their studies as well as strengthening mental health care for students suffering stress due to the impact of COVID-19.
The fruits of learning at university are not only borne in the classroom. It is through taking the initiative to study and think by oneself both within and without the classroom that students master the ability to determine the essence of problems and discover new truths. A person's character is molded through their interactions with friends and teachers as well as various extracurricular activities and social experiences, while the comprehensive skill set required to be able to contribute to society is forged through study. The founder of Keio University, Yukichi Fukuzawa, taught that social interactions and relationships are an essential part of life and an important form of learning. Study that is able to balance curricular and extracurricular activities is the basis of education at Keio University.
As a comprehensive university with a medical school and hospital, Keio is thoroughly implementing measures to prevent infections that is based on scientific evidence and unswayed by the unreliable information that has become prevalent in society, and we are making preparations to ensure that students can safely engage in academic pursuits, culture and art, sports, and international exchanges while avoiding, as far as possible, the risks of spreading COVID-19.
Since its founding in 1858, Keio University has remained a private school through the help it has received from like-minded benefactors and it has overcome multiple crises through the strength of the university community (shachu) made up of students, alumni, and faculty and staff members. In time, it has developed into a comprehensive university that has come to epitomize Japan. Students of Keio University are not just pupils who passively receive instruction but active members of this community. Let us work together to surmount the current crisis and protect Keio’s academic traditions through its spirit of independence, self-respect, and freedom.
I look forward to seeing the campuses once more brought to life when you return in the spring.