July 31, 2020
Since January of this year, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has spread across the world. By the end of July, the situation is very good in Thailand—with no case of local transmission for over two months, but there are places around the world, including several 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. Following the declaration of National Emergency by the Thai government, contingency operational plans were put in place, strict measures were imposed on AIT campus, and donated masks were issued to the entire AIT community.
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. Final exams and theses defense were online also. Those who are scheduled to graduate this summer are able to do so. Unfortunately, the May Graduation Exercise was cancelled, but all who graduate this summer are welcome to attend the December Graduation Exercises if they wish. So far, there has been no case of Coronavirus on campus, and the AIT community is slowly opening up but still vigilant and making sacrifices to protect the campus. On July 1, AIT re-opened on a shift-work basis, with various restrictions on gathering loosened, and various facilities opening on July 1. All faculty and staff and new and continuing students in Thailand are having medical checkups to obtain a “fit-to-work/study” certification before August. On August 1, AIT resumes fully normal operations.
AIT will be fully open for the Fall Semester on August 4. Recruitment has continued unabated all through 2020, and it appears that the number of students enrolled in Fall Semester 2020 will be even more than in August 2019. Many new students will be able to come on campus, and classrooms and laboratories will observe social distancing. Strict measures will be in place to protect the community, as health is the No. 1 priority of AIT. However, overseas students, because of the virus conditions in their home countries and travel and quarantine restrictions, may not be able to join us in residence on campus initially and need to take classes online for awhile. For these students, AIT is receiving excellent support from the Thai Government to get them to AIT as quickly—and as safely—as feasible. But AIT faculty and staff have worked very hard to ensure that our online education are being enhanced, with more innovative interactive online instruction on different platforms available this August in modern Hybrid Classrooms. In addition, there will be creative ways to involve online students in student life, so that they get a sense of AIT residential education. Therefore, with new technology and methodology, AIT “will not miss a beat” and will welcome students to enroll in August 2020, both in residence and online. Quality Education and Research— “Social Impact with Innovation”—will go on at AIT!