Universities told to stagger opening dates
Spring semester to start online for some students due to epidemic risks
The Ministry of Education has asked universities to stagger their spring semester opening dates and make preparations for online schooling.
In a recent notice, the ministry said universities should make early plans for the spring semester after fully considering the COVID-19 epidemic situation and their teaching schedule.
They should prepare enough equipment, conduct emergency drills and strictly implement epidemic prevention and control measures, the ministry said, adding that all people and items entering universities must be checked.
Universities should also conduct routine nucleic acid tests on key groups of people and the environment and frequently sterilize and disinfect important venues, it added.
Wang Dengfeng, head of the ministry's department of physical, health and arts education, said the ministry has asked all universities to fully restore normal classroom teaching for the spring semester with effective epidemic control measures in place.
Local education authorities can make adjustments to opening dates based on their epidemic situation, and universities in medium-and high-risk areas need to delay the opening of the spring semester, he said at a news conference.
Education authorities and universities should make preparations to start online teaching whenever necessary, he said.
Teachers and students at all universities should report their health conditions, whereabouts and contacts to their university every day during the winter vacation, he added.
At least 16 universities in Beijing have announced that they will postpone the start of spring semester activities on campus for several weeks and resort to online teaching in the meantime.
Beijing Jiaotong University said in a notice that while the semester will open on March 1, the first three weeks will be conducted online.
Offline teaching will start on March 22 and students will be able to return to campus in batches from March 16 to 21, it said.
Beijing Normal University will start the new semester online on Feb 22 and students can only return to campus after March 16, it said.
Students who need to return to campus early can apply to return on Feb 21 and 22 after getting approval from the university and showing a negative nucleic acid test result obtained within the previous three days, it said.
Sun Chang, 22, a senior student at Beijing Jiaotong University, said she has gained a great deal of experience in online schooling after spending the whole spring semester last year studying online due to the epidemic.
Teachers and students have established efficient communication channels online and Sun said she didn't think she missed much through online learning.
Zhao Yixuan, a senior student at University of Science and Technology Beijing, said although the university has delayed offline teaching by three weeks from March 1 to 22, he does not feel it will have much impact.
"I can write the graduation dissertation at home and the decision was made to ensure the safety of students," the 23-year-old said.
"Many graduates were unable to return to school last year and three weeks is nothing, as long as I can have a proper graduation experience."