As many Japanese schools and universities move to online instruction or close campuses to avoid further coronavirus infections, one university in Ishikawa Prefecture is getting noticed for its response to the crisis.

According to a report by ANN News, on April 8th, about 80 freshmen at Komatsu University attended classes in a hotel hall. In the video, students are seen sitting two at a table. In what was intended to be a coronavirus prevention measure, the university used the hotel to prevent students from congregating on the main campus. Apparently, they plan to continue holding lectures for some of its classes at the hotel until the end of the month, and depending on the infection situation, continuing the program into May.

Ishikawa Prefecture, currently ranked 14th nationwide in its number of coronavirus infections at 72 (at time of writing), was not one of the seven regions in Shinzo Abe's emergency status declared on April 7th. Nevertheless, according to the Mainichi Shimbun, citizens have voiced concern over Ishikawa Prefecture governor Masanori Tanimoto's statements that while he doesn't openly invite them to visit, he won't refuse asymptomatic people from outside the prefecture since "increasing exchanges helps revitalize the region."

Twitter users react

Online, the university's decision elicited mostly critical reactions. Here are a few of the representative responses:

  • "This is the university I attend. I submitted my opinion so it would reach the higher-ups but all I got was an email saying 'the school won't close'. It seems they think this academic year (...) is more important than students' and teachers' lives. As a university with a medical faculty, it's really embarrassing."
  • "No, that's not the way you do it..."
  • "They're not sitting 2 meters away from each other, so I wonder if there's any meaning in doing this..."
  • "What is it about this 'trend of not letting people take a break and damn the consequences' here in Japan?... Whether it's work or school, they should all take a break."
  • "Whether it's on campus or in a hotel, I don't think the risk changes much... Is it because the hotel foots the cleaning bill if someone gets infected?"
  • "(...) At the very least they should have one person per table and open all the doors... Even better, let's go online, people."

Although in the minority, some users defended the university's decision:

  • "It seems some people are criticizing this but to be honest, it's ridiculous to just wait until the crisis goes away. Online classes will just cause confusion. I don't think there's anything wrong with acting quickly like this."
  • "I see this article going around with people criticizing it, but this is Ishikawa Prefecture. They're not included in the emergency status announcement. No requests for school closures have been made (please correct me if I'm wrong). I think the students who attended under such circumstances deserve praise."

By - grape Japan editorial staff.