Since January of this year, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has spread across the world. By the end of April, the situation was improving in Thailand, but there are places around the world, including many of the countries where our AIT students, faculty, and staff come from, which are still heavily affected.
AIT took action very early to make sure our campus is safe. We formed the AIT Coronavirus Task Force 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 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 student in quarantine, having all been cleared medically. Contingency operational plans have been put in place since Thailand declared a National Emergency in early April, and this is expected to last until the end of May. So far, the AIT community is making sacrifices to protect the campus, and no Coronavirus cases have occurred at AIT.
Back 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 to move to online interactive instruction. About half the 1400 students chose to remain at AIT, with the other half, including exchange students from around the world, going back to their home country or their home in Thailand. All students were able 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 in the first part of May. 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.
Meanwhile, looking ahead to the Fall Semester, 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! And at the time of this writing, we are optimistic that the AIT campus will be open with face-to-face classes by August 2020!