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NCKU President Su on maintaining relationships in time of social distancing

May 4, 2020
 
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been spreading throughout the world like wildfire, people in Taiwan have been battling the disease for over 100 days since the outbreak. “We are lucky that our daily lives continue as usual while many countries around the world, where COVID-19 deaths are being reduced as much as possible,” said  National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) President Huey-Jen Jenny Su.
 
Social distancing has become the new norm, according to President Su. “How to avoid interpersonal relationships but maintain meaningful contact while countering the loneliness of social distancing is crucial for everyone.”
 
President Su indicated that that the role of universities is knowledge production and universities should also assume social responsibility in times of crisis. As a comprehensive research university, NCKU highlighted specific two core values in COVID-19 response: one is academic momentum, and the other is scientific solutions to the problems.
 
“Clear communication is vital during a pandemic,” Su said. For example, NCKU began to deploy the first line of epidemic prevention measures in January, security guards, dormitory managers, cleaning staff, and even school security personnel are all equipped with full training. The pandemic control measures successfully contained the outbreak in the University community.
 
Su noted that information should also be accurately delivered to the students. In the University community, students returning from abroad are informed to be actively engaged in the tracing from their departments instead of returning directly to the school. These students protect themselves on the one hand, but also protect their communities by reducing transmission risks in the University.
 
According to Su, in addition to effective communication, technology plays an important role as well. For instance, online teaching allows members in the University community to continue with teaching in times of crisis and digitization of screening infrastructure in hospitals reduce the impact of COVID-19 cases on daily operations.
 
President Su said that Taiwan's COVID-19 success is obvious and epidemic prevention efforts in NCKU have been successful for the past hundred days. But what is the next step? 
 
She continued, “in a recent university affairs meeting, in which participants can appear in-person or via videoconferencing, most of them chose to appear in-person rather than staying online, it highlighted that people still value physical interactions greatly.”
 
To balance disease prevention and interpersonal needs, in NCKU indoor courses start guiding opportunities for outdoor learning or to formulate clearer social distancing guidelines, according to President Su. “Do whatever it takes to create and sustain meaningful connections with other people during this viral crisis.”
 
NCKU will continue to show its strength in combating the COVID-19 to the international community and demonstrate its willingness to contribute to the global fight against the disease, said Su, “the community will maintain basic operations.” Hopefully economic activities and international interactions will gradually recover when the pandemic passed its peak.
 
President Su said, Taiwan has a high-quality healthcare system and has received international attention and recognition in this COVID-19 crisis management. She commented that we will be able to invite experts and scholars from different parts of Taiwan, taking the opportunity to retain local talents and to recruit international talents to work together in this global COVID-19 fight.
 
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