COVID-19 Program Modifications
At this moment, AKP intends to hold its Spring 2021 semester in Kyoto. To that end, this page details what you might be able to expect from an in-person semester. As you make your decisions for studying abroad in the spring, we encourage you to read through the following page in detail and check back for updates. Due to the dynamics of the situation, modifications may be added or moved based on the current situation in Kyoto and our host institution, Doshisha University.
Last Updated: September 18, 2020
Timeline for Decisions
September 25, 2020: All applications for Spring 2021 are due.
October 9, 2020: Enrollment decisions from students are due.
Early November: AKP decides whether Spring 2021 will be able to happen on-site.
AKP is constantly referring to a number of sources to assess the public health situation in Kyoto, including our on-site staff, host institution partners, local government sources, the Japanese Government, the Department of State, and the CDC. Some factors that may affect our Spring 2021 semester include, but are not limited to, the following:
- whether students from the US and other home countries will be allowed into Japan
- whether students will be able to receive their visa in time
- whether our host institution’s facilities remain open for the semester
Given the fluidity of the situation, anything can change between now and the start of the semester. We greatly thank you for your patience and flexibility and encourage you to keep checking this webpage.
AKP is currently researching online options in the event that an in-country semester is not possible for the Spring 2021 semester. Please check back on this page for more later in the fall semester.
Monitor health: AKP will encourage students to take a test in their home country prior to departure if testing is available. Should a student feel ill within 14 days of departure, they should contact the AKP US Office right away.
Plan personal health and safety equipment: While AKP will provide students masks while in Japan, students should plan to bring their own supply of masks as well. Those who are able to bring a thermometer for self-monitoring symptoms are encouraged to do so.
Secure technology: All students should be prepared to bring a reliable laptop in the event that classes have to temporarily transition online.
In addition, all students will be required to have a working smart phone with an international call and data plan. This is to ensure that 1) students will be able to place calls to medical centers in event of self-isolation and 2) students can download the tracking apps required by Doshisha University. Wi-fi plans for laptops and tablets will not be required, as wi-fi will be provided both on campus and in student housing.
In the past, students have used sites like Mobal.com or CDJapan to purchase international SIM cards/phones or have upgraded their current US phone plan to have temporary international capabilities. Accepted students who are struggling to identify options for themselves should reach out to the AKP US Office.
Health and Safety
All students will be required to wear a mask while outside of their private apartment spaces. AKP encourages students to bring their own personal face coverings from home but will also supply masks at no charge upon request.
It is important to note that wearing masks during flu and cold season is seen in Japan as a cultural norm. Many people in Japan consider hygiene and health consciousness as an important social responsibility, and those who do not wear masks during this time may be looked down upon.
In addition to wearing masks, AKP will request students to follow other guidelines laid out by AKP, Doshisha University, and the Government of Japan. Some of these include:
- Handwashing: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 30 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Physical Distancing: Stay at least 6 feet away from other people. Avoid the “Three Cs”: crowded places, close-contact settings and closed spaces. Some examples include ill-ventilated venues such as rush-hour trains, concert halls, live houses, and karaoke rooms.
- Symptom Monitoring: Should you feel sick, remain isolated at home to monitor your symptoms and contact AKP Kyoto Center staff right away. Kyoto Center staff will assist in connecting you with medical services.
- Contract Tracing Compliance: Comply with contact tracing requests from local government by downloading the COCOA contact tracing app.
Prior to students’ departure, AKP will require students to sign both an assumption of risk form and community pledge that list these expectations in detail. For more information about Doshisha University’s rules, please refer to Doshisha University Guidelines for Preventing Spread of Infection of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19).
All foreign travelers entering Japan will receive tests upon entering the country. AKP will encourage students to take a test in their home country prior to departure if testing is available. We are currently researching whether it would be possible for students to take additional tests throughout the semester.
Students who feel ill, experience common cold or COVID-19 symptoms (e.g. cough, fever, fatigue), or become aware that they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should stay in their apartment and immediately inform the AKP Resident Director. The Resident Director or other AKP staff will:
- instruct the student to call the Kyoto Prefecture Consultation Service (075-414-4726 ) and to closely follow all instructions or recommendations
- provide support to follow up on the consultation service’s recommendations, if needed
- arrange food support (e.g. groceries or meals) during student’s isolation
- maintain close communication with the student so they remain updated on their recovery or any positive diagnosis of COVID-19
AKP takes the mental health of its students very seriously. Should you wish to partake in tele-counseling with a counselor while in Japan, you may speak with the Resident Director to set up an appointment. AKP will normally subsidize any counseling fees with our appointed counselors. The TELL Hotline, a confidential phone counseling service, is also available to students. See the Culture Shock and Counseling page for more information.
Room and Board
For the Spring 2021 Semester, AKP will switch from a homestay-only housing model to individual monthly mansions (apartments) for students. This change has been determined to be beneficial due to the following reasons:
- Single room apartments will allow students to more safely observe social distancing and quarantine measures, particularly if they fall ill during their time on AKP.
- Single room apartments will help AKP ensure the safety of its host families, many of whom have members who are older and more vulnerable.
- All apartment buildings will be within a close distance to AKP’s campus, thus reducing the amount of time students will spend on public transportation while in Japan.
All apartments will be paid for in full by AKP, and the daily food stipend will be increased to cover the free breakfast and dinner previously provided in the homestay housing model. Cleaning supplies for the students’ apartments will also be provided by AKP at no cost.
AKP recognizes the role our host families play in our program’s cultural learning component. We are currently exploring options to connect students with host families in a limited fashion more conducive to social distancing during their semester.
No overnight guests are allowed, including family and friends from your home country. AKP students are welcome to visit their classmates’ apartments so long as masks are worn by all those present and visits do not last more than 2 hours.
All students will be required to wear face masks and sit at least six feet apart from other classmates. Faculty will also be required to wear masks. All classrooms to be used in the Spring 2021 semester are properly sized to accommodate these measures.
Other precautions designated by AKP’s host institution, Doshisha University, include providing hand sanitizer at the entrance of all buildings and keeping doors and windows open to increase ventilation.
For the Spring 2021 semester, access to the AKP Kyoto Center will be on an appointment-only basis. The AKP Student Lounge will also be unavailable for student use.
Doshisha’s library, Learning Commons, and other facilities remain open at this time. Doshisha intends to reduce the number of chairs and rearrange furniture so that students are not sitting face-to-face or next to each other.
Doshisha’s cafeterias and other food shops are open during this time. Admission will be restricted during peak hours, and the flow of customers will be guided by signs as well as stickers on the floor. Like Doshisha’s libraries, seating will be reduced and arranged so that students are not sitting face-to-face or next to each other. Customers are advised to refrain from talking loudly and to promptly leave as soon as they finish eating so as to shorten their length of stay.
AKP will strongly encourage students to avoid personal travel outside of the Kyoto region. Day trips to the nearby Osaka, Nara, Hyogo, and Shiga Prefectures may be allowed depending on the occurrence of COVID-19 in those areas. Students who choose to forgo this policy assume all associated risks.
Travel outside of Japan (except for personal and family emergencies) during the semester will be strictly prohibited. Any student who chooses to travel outside of Japan during the semester without approval from the AKP Kyoto Center risks severe disruption to their program, including possible suspension.
If the in-person program is canceled before the start of the semester: AKP will not charge the student or the student’s home institution any fees related to the program.
If the in-person program is canceled mid-semester: Should it seem that AKP cannot operate in its intended form due to significant interruptions by COVID-19 or if there will be difficulty in returning students to their home countries at the end of the semester due to border closures or reduction of flights, AKP will consider evacuating students from Japan and continuing any remaining coursework online.
In the event of such a disruption, AKP will refund pro-rated room and board costs based on the number of days remaining in the program. Tuition will not be refunded unless there are circumstances that prevent AKP from continuing coursework online or elsewhere.
AKP considers meal stipends (as well as the commuter pass, if provided) as part of room and board costs, so refunds for these amounts will be included in the room and board refund. No additional refunds for these will be provided beyond the room and board refund.
Field trips and other group activities are always subject to change, so no refunds will be provided for any such activities that were planned but needed to be canceled due to an evacuation or other disruption related to COVID-19. However, any remaining amounts for the monthly Cultural Activities Grant will be paid in full to students prior to evacuation.
Students who choose to withdraw from the program mid-semester will be charged based on the withdrawal policy of their home institution. Exceptions may be made for those with extenuating circumstances, such as personal or family emergency.
Deferrals are welcome! Should you choose to defer your Spring 2021 acceptance to the Fall 2021 semester, please inform the AKP US Office no later than mid-November 2020. Students who choose to defer will not need to reapply and will not be charged fees for the spring.