Friday, June 11, 2021
On June 7th, we received great news regarding workplace vaccinations for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As you may have already seen, Keio University has decided to vaccinate 50,000 students, faculty, and staff members under this system. Video messages from President Itoh and Vice-President Kitagawa on this plan are available for viewing. This will probably involve a lot of hard work on the ground, with all the arrangements and preparations.
However, even though it hasn't started yet, and I haven't been vaccinated myself, it puts my mind strangely at ease. While remaining aware that we are not in a position to let our guard down just yet, I feel much more optimistic, thinking about our summer vacation and the fall semester to come. I think this is a testament to the sense of constriction engendered by how we have been spending our days. First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for the strong determination and action of so many people to make this project a reality.
On the other hand, as I listened to this exciting news, many other thoughts ran through my mind. The reason why we can feel positive after listening to this announcement is that we are "eligible." In other words, we are fortunate enough to be included in the "students, faculty and staff members of Keio University." This is certainly a cause for joy. I would, however, caution you to be vigilant against overexcitement about the fact that our chance came along a little earlier than for others. As stated in the President's message, this vaccination aims to create a safe environment for learning, research, extracurricular activities, and study abroad.
On top of that, please use your imagination and expand your ideas to society. In what order will the vaccinations begin? Are the international students receiving accurate information? Although I may be able to get vaccinated soon, what about my family? How would my best friend, who goes to another school, react? Plus, there is the fact that the vaccination itself is optional. Vaccinations may be recommended, but it is up to each individual to decide whether or not to take these up. Of course, these decisions must be respected. There should be no disadvantage to those who do not get vaccinated.
Just as there are those deemed eligible, there will also be those for whom this is not the case. Moreover, each individual may make a different decision, despite having been deemed eligible. Thus, this joyful news represents a chance to think about the complexities of everyday life.
One more point: Since the number of reported cases of infection per day has been on a downward trend, SFC's BCP (business continuity planning) has been reviewed. After much deliberation, it was decided to resume face-to-face classes at the campus from June 21. Courses that were conducted on-campus at the start of the spring semester may be changed again to face-to-face classes. Please, carefully read the e-mails from the faculty member in charge of your course and academic affairs for more information. Starting a class on campus at the beginning of the semester, moving to online midway through, and reverting to face-to-face classes again is an unprecedented situation. The circumstances of each student and the policies and plans of the faculty members are different. As with the vaccination topic above, please consider the full range of possibilities and outcomes when thinking about returning to campus.
Due to the state of emergency, classes were held entirely online for about seven weeks from the end of April, and some students have returned to their parent's homes. This means that some faculty members will have restructured their lesson plans to accommodate the online classes. There is a possibility that we will continue to have online classes without returning to face-to-face classes. Others may even feel psychologically daunted about the prospect of a return to face-to-face classes.
Please be careful when using public transportation, especially buses that travel between Shonandai and the campus, and take all necessary precautions to prevent infection. Congestion is expected during commuting hours for students of Keio Shonan Fujisawa Junior and Senior High School. If possible, try to commute at different times by referring to the data that serves as a guide for peak hours. In early April, I saw students on campus taking off their masks and chatting with each other during lunch and other occasions. We need to continue to be careful about when and where we eat. It may take some time for the services of each store, which have been operating on a limited basis for some time, to return to their normal pace. To avoid overcrowding, you could try to bring your own lunch, for example.
As usual, a series of decisions continue to be made in a situation where the "correct answer" is unknown. What we are required to do is to think about the situation and where it develops, as well as to imagine ourselves as a part of society. As I wrote the other day, I think it's important to keep in mind the importance of compassionate communication in times like these. Each of us should be wise and humble. Our campus life would not be possible without relationships with others. The past few days have been summer-like, and the blue sky and the green campus have been energizing. I hope to see you all on campus soon.