Message from President Hideo Ohno (August 20, 2021)

Dear students, faculty and staff,

The number of COVID-19 infection cases has been rising rapidly across Japan, and the renewed severity of the pandemic caused by the highly contagious Delta variant, has prompted the national government to place several prefectures in a full state of emergency.

In Miyagi, we are now in a "quasi" state of emergency that will see shops, restaurants and bars shorten their hours of operation. There will also be a restriction on the sale of alcohol. As we are all members of the community, I urge you to abide by the stricter infection countermeasures and refrain from unnecessary outings or travel.

On campus, where there has also been a rise in infection cases recently, we are moving our Emergency Action Plan (BCP) up to Level 3 with immediate effect. Despite this being the summer holidays, many of you might still be on campus, so please familiarize yourselves with the details.

For students and researchers:

All classes will, in principle, be conducted online. If in-person instruction or examinations are required, safety protocols must be followed. Research activities can continue but under strict supervision. Time spent in the lab must be kept to a minimum and activities that do not require in-person work should be done remotely from home.

Extracurricular activities can take place under Phase 3 guidelines. This means that individuals and small groups may carry out activities indoors and outdoors, as long as sufficient safety measures are in place. If possible, please hold your activities online.

For faculty and staff:

Meetings should be conducted via ICT. And business travel (especially to areas with high rates of infection) should be postponed or cancelled unless first approved by the relevant department head.

Administrative services will remain mostly online, with the electronic approval system used in place of "hanko" seals for a paperless workflow. Where possible, staff will work in shifts or remotely from home, to allow for more physical distancing in the office. Rooms should be frequently and properly ventilated, even when air conditioning is used.

There have been reports of vaccinated people contracting COVID-19 or being a carrier of the virus and unknowingly infecting others. So even if you have been vaccinated, please continue to practice infection prevention measures - always wear a mask, wash your hands thoroughly and avoid the 3Cs (closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings).

Let's all have a safe (and responsible) summer.

Hideo Ohno
President, Tohoku University

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