03.07.2020

How to Safely Reopen Colleges and Universities During COVID-19: Experiences From Taiwan

Epidemiological InfectiologyLockdown
Cheng SY et al
Ann Intern Med

Main result

In Taiwan, as of June 18, 2020, 7 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been announced in 6 universities, one of which closed for 14 days.

Publication of general recommendations from the Taiwanese Minister of Education on February 26, 2020, involving:

  • establishment of a COVID-19 task force at each university
  • general hygiene measures
  • rules for ventilation and disinfection
  • a procedure to announce suspected cases
  • quarantine measures
  • rules for closing institutions and catching up on courses

Formulation of general rules to be followed:

  • deportations of students and staff to foreign countries are to be avoided
  • organization of sufficient stocks of personal protective equipment, disinfectants, and thermometers
  • communication to encourage compliance with preventative actions
  • maintenance of ventilation in rooms (open windows)
  • physical distancing of 1.5 meters indoors and 1 meter outdoors
  • limit access to the buildings to a single entrance
  • disinfection of shared spaces according to defined protocols at least twice per day
  • aid for those with symptoms
  • installation of stations to check body temperature
  • organization of quarantines in single rooms, particularly for foreign students
  • surveillance of students’ health by university medical services
  • limiting public gatherings

In the case of a confirmed case in a university: closure of the individual’s class

In the case of at least 2 confirmed cases in a university: closure of the institution for at least 14 days and implementation of online classes

More specifically at the National Taiwan University:

  • conversion to online instruction for classes of more than 60 students
  • creation of a dedicated web site with a questionnaire, including epidemiologically relevant history and clinical symptoms in the past 14 days, for students and staff to fill out

Takeaways

Universities in Taiwan adopted strict, carefully organized measures to limit transmission of SARS-CoV-2. In the end, the universities were not greatly impacted and were able to resume instruction efficiently. However, the measures were written with the context of a national epidemic.

Strength of evidence Weak

- only a single university was reviewed
- absence of information concerning the level of compliance to preventative measures by students and staff

Objectives

To describe the experience of universities in Taiwan during the COVID-19 crisis

Method

Review of Taiwan’s experience during the COVID-19 pandemic in universities.

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