A Campus Role Model in Combating COVID-19: National Chung Cheng University Shares Its Experience In Countering the Pandemic

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With the global spread of coronavirus, National Chung Cheng University (CCU) is seeking to protect the health of its faculty and students by taking strict precautions to guard against the virus. CCU’s prevention measures have drawn the attention of the Association of International Cultural and Educational Exchange (AICCE) in Taiwan. News regarding Taiwan’s higher education during the global epidemic were collected and a report on this topic was published on June 18th2020. Dr. Zhang-Hua Fong, President of CCU, also shared his opinions and the preventive measures used in the university with the epidemic’s effect on higher education in mind.
According to CCU, in order to explore the university’s preventive measures and international education response measures, AICEE Taiwan conducted special interviews with Dr. Fong, Dr. Hua-Fu Hsu (Dean of International Affairs at CCU), three international students, and five Taiwanese students who could not do a semester abroad as planned because of the pandemic.
On the 23rd of January, Lunar New Year’s Eve, CCU established a COVID-19 prevention group and promoted a series of measures, such as flexible course arrangements, remote learning, disinfection of public areas and key spaces in campus, and strengthened sanitation of offices, classrooms, and restrooms. When the semester began, CCU authorities assigned dedicated personnel and transport to pick up international students (who were required to be quarantined) and installed separator plates in the university’s dining areas. Furthermore, 17 temperature check stations were established and infrared thermometers were introduced. With the global spread of COVID-19, the school’s authority also made face masks mandatory for teachers and students as well as limited access to the library and gym.
According to CCU, AICEE recently conducted a questionnaire survey involving students from universities and colleges across Taiwan and has published the results in “The Impact of COVID-19 on College Life Online Survey.” 89.8% of the interviewed students approved the pandemic prevention measures of their universities and 86.3% of the interviewees believed that all of the preventive measures were appropriate.
During the interview, Dr. Fong, the President of CCU, stated that due to a similar experience with SARS 17 years ago and the government’s early precautions, in addition to the habit of wearing face masks among the islanders, Taiwan managed to effectively curb the spread of the pandemic. Remote learning was promoted in order to avoid the spreading of the virus at large gatherings and this was favored by many students because it does not have time and space constraints. Dr. Fong also indicated that this year’s epidemic deeply affected the development of higher education. Small online discussions centered around specific topics have replaced traditional large-scale conferences. The unlimited reach of the Internet has facilitated the participation of multiple students from different countries.
AICEE Taiwan interviewed eight local and international CCU students. All the interviewees stated that they were content with the school’s measures, such as taking temperatures at campus entrances and separate entrance and exit passages for each building. Hsiu-An Chen, a student of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at CCU, stated that he obtained all current information related to epidemic prevention measures despite being in quarantine. He came back after exchanging abroad for a semester and received regular updates from the Division of Health Services, which made him feel that the university has been diligent in its attempt to control the pandemic. Although Chen had to return earlier due to the pandemic, he has continued to take part in his exchange university’s courses via the Internet, allowing him to continue learning without deterrence.
Hui-Mei Chen, an international student of the Department of Chemical Engineering, said that she was most impressed by the number of temperature-taking stations in the campus. The university acts in accordance with the latest policies implemented in Taiwan. Moreover, the Office of International Affairs at CCU sends updates with the latest information, reminding international students to be careful. Despite the inability to meet friends due to social distancing and the reduced availability of gym facilities, Chen believed that her current campus life has remained largely unchanged and the measures taken by the university have made her feel safe while pursuing her studies at CCU.
According to CCU, after completing the interviews, AICEE Taiwan also toured around the university to observe the pandemic prevention measures, and later released an online video-supported report (https://youtu.be/fQMA-i2hSKs) to inform the public of prevention measures used in Taiwanese universities.
                                                              
Image source: AICEE Taiwan