The Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has spread across the world, with cases in Thailand and in many of the countries where our AIT students, faculty and staff come from.
The AIT Coronavirus Task Force was formed at the end of January to monitor the crisis, both in general and specifically on how it affects the institute. The Task Force has been devising policies, measures and advice, and has kept the AIT community informed through a dedicated Intranet column—with links to the Thai Government public health websites—and through frequent emails. As the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus increased daily worldwide, the work of the Task Force shifted into high gear, and more and more restrictive precautionary steps have been, and are being, taken by AIT to ensure a safe and healthy environment on campus. For example, the Task Force ensured that all AIT students overseas—who wanted to—have returned to AIT, and those arriving from highly infected countries were placed on a 14-day quarantine. As of this update, there is no longer any student in quarantine, having all been cleared medically. Contingency operational plans have been put in place, as strict precautionary measures—such as campus access restrictions, activities limitations, travel prohibitions, and social distancing—increased for the AIT Community to keep it safe. So far, no Coronavirus cases have occurred at AIT, but the entire campus is vigilant.
On March 18, AIT officially closed, following the policy announced by the Thai Government, and all face-to-face classes were cancelled for the rest of the Spring Semester. However, education moved online, and all students are continuing to learn via interactive online instruction until the end of Spring Semester on April 24. Final exams and theses defense will then also be online. About half the 1400 students chose to remain at AIT, with the other half, including exchange students from around the world, having gone back to their home country or their home in Thailand. The May Graduation Exercise has been cancelled, but those students graduating this May will be able to complete their requirements to graduate on time. They are also welcome to come back to attend the December Graduation Exercises if they wish. The campus is not “locked down”, but work by AIT faculty and staff is now on a “Work from Home” basis, with only mission essential personnel coming to the office very occasionally, at least until April 30 when the National Emergency status of Thailand ends.
Meanwhile, AIT faculty and staff are working very hard to make sure that the online education we are providing now will be enhanced for the future, with more innovative interactive online instruction on different platforms available this August. Therefore, with new technology and methodology, AIT “will not miss a beat” and will welcome students to enroll in August 2020, even in the eventuality that the crisis prevents on-campus instruction to start at that time. Quality Education and Research— “Social Impact with Innovation”—will go on at AIT!