COVID-19 Program Modifications

General Information

After a thorough assessment of various factors, the AKP Board of Directors has ultimately decided to cancel our Spring 2022 program. Please read our official statement to our students here.

Looking forward to Fall 2022, this page will be updated throughout the upcoming months with the possible health and safety precautions AKP may implement during Fall 2022. Staff are continuously assessing conditions in Japan and worldwide and may change the contents of this page based on the ever-shifting situation. If you are a student intending to study abroad with us, we ask that you read this page in close detail.

Important Vaccination Update: To better ensure the safety of the entire AKP community, AKP will require all AKP students to be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 in order to participate in the program moving forward (allowing exemptions for medical or religious reasons). This means that students must have completed their original vaccine series and received a booster shot (e.g. a third mRNA shot, an mRNA shot in addition to a “one shot” vaccine such as J & J, etc.) at least two weeks prior to arrival to Japan. Review the question “Will AKP be requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19?” for more information.
 

If you have any questions, please reach out to the AKP US Office at [email protected].

Last Updated: April 22, 2022

Timeline

November 9, 2021: Spring 2022 officially cancelled.

Spring 2022 through Summer: Planning for Fall 2022 and continuous assessment of pandemic conditions in Japan.

Early July 2022: Announcement regarding whether AKP will hold its Fall 2022 semester.

General Questions

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 Fall 2022 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

For example, the sudden change in travel restrictions due to Japan’s State of Emergency in due to Japan’s January 2021 State of Emergency would have prevented our students from entering the country if we had attempted to hold our Spring 2021 semester. The likelihood of something like this occurring again is one of the many factors we are considering at this time for the fall.

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 page.

Due to the varying policies regarding the acceptance of online course credits at our home institutions, it is unlikely that AKP will offer online classes for Fall 2022.

However, for those who are curious about Japan and Kyoto, we are offering a series of online webinars throughout the Spring 2022 semester. For the AKP Talk Series about Kyoto (consortium institution-only), students should speak with their Japanese professors to register. For the AKP Spring 2022 Lecture Series (open to the public), registration links can be found on our Events page.

The following may change based on Japanese immigration policy, but students are currently expected to…

Monitor health: Students are required to monitor their temperature for 14 days prior to their departure for Japan. Should a student feel ill within 14 days of departure, they should contact the AKP US Office right away.

Take COVID-19 Test: Based on the guidelines set by the Japanese Government in late 2020, students are required to test negative for COVID-19 72 hours prior to their flight to Japan. Students who are unable to present a certificate for their negative test result will not be allowed to board their international flight to Japan. For more information, please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Plan personal health and safety equipment: Students should plan to bring their own supply of masks to use upon arrival in Japan, preferably surgical-grade or higher (e.g. disposable surgical masks, N95, KN95, KF94). Masks are available for purchase in Japan, and AKP will provide students with surgical-grade masks upon request or as needed.

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 the Japanese Government and 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.

Yes, AKP will require all AKP students to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 in order to participate in the program (allowing exemptions for medical or religious reasons). This means that students must have completed their original vaccine series and received a booster shot (e.g. a third shot of a two-shot series such as Pfizer or Moderna, an mRNA shot in addition to a one-shot series such as J & J, etc.) at least two weeks prior to arrival to Japan.

AKP currently allows vaccinations from any vaccine approved by the World Health Organization. Please refer to the WHO website for a list of currently approved vaccines.

The decision to require vaccines and boosters was made to better ensure the safety of the entire AKP community, which includes staff and faculty. If you wish to request an exemption, please reach out to [email protected].

Health and Safety

All AKP students will be enrolled in two forms of insurance by AKP: Japanese National Health Insurance (for coverage within Japan) and Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI)’s Comprehensive Plan for US students studying abroad. Both forms of insurance are paid for by AKP.
 
Japanese National Health Insurance covers 70% of most medical expenses incurred while in Japan upfront. This includes medicine, screenings, doctor’s visits, and hospital stays. The CISI plan will cover medical expenses on a reimbursement/claims basis while also providing other international insurance essentials such as travel assistance, medical evacuation, etc. This plan covers you in Japan and anywhere outside of Japan except for your home country.

All students will be required to wear a mask while outside of private apartment spaces or designated areas within their homestays. AKP asks that students bring their own personal face coverings from home but will also supply masks at no charge upon request.

To increase protection of the AKP community, AKP strongly recommends the use of surgical-grade or higher masks such as disposable surgical masks, N95, KN95, or KF94s.

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 frowned 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 when possible. Avoid the “Three Cs”: crowded places, close-contact settings and closed spaces.
  • 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 an assumption of risk form as well as several Doshisha University documents 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 are required by the Japanese Government to receive a negative test result prior to departing for Japan and will receive another test upon entering the country.

As for tests throughout the semester, it is important to note that regular PCR testing as seen on various college campuses in the US has not been implemented across Japan. However, AKP currently plans to require a weekly testing regimen for all students, staff, and faculty using antigen tests. These tests will be supplied by AKP. More information will be provided closer to the beginning of 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 housing 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 (075-414-5487) and to closely follow all instructions or recommendations
  • provide support to follow up on the consultation service’s recommendations, if needed
  • provide guidance on obtaining food (e.g. delivery or takeout) during isolation
  • maintain close communication with the student so they remain updated on their recovery or any positive diagnosis of COVID-19

Prior to departure, AKP will provide resources on Japan’s medical institutions and food delivery in Japan (such as UberEats and Demaecan).

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

After careful deliberation between the Kyoto Center, US Office, and the AKP Board of Directors, AKP has decided to switch from a homestay-only model to individual monthly mansions (apartments) for Fall 2022. This means that students will live in their own individual apartment paid for by AKP during the Fall 2022 semester rather than with a host family.

At this stage of the pandemic, AKP believes that individual, single-room apartments are still the safest form of housing for both our students and homestay families. Apartments will allow students to more safely observe social distancing and quarantine measures as well as protect host family members who may be older and more vulnerable.

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 will reassess pandemic conditions to determine housing for the Spring 2023 semester later this year.

AKP recognizes the role our host families play in our program’s cultural learning component. Although students will no longer live with a host family, host families will remain a part of AKP’s cultural experience in Fall 2022. Throughout the semester, students will be expected to interact with their host family at least once a week. Depending on the pandemic situation when students arrive in Japan, this may start out as online-only interactions or interactions based on the student’s and host family’s comfort level. Some families may also be paired with more than one student.

No guests are allowed, including family and friends from your home country. We ask that AKP students also refrain from visiting their classmates’ housing and instead interact outside of the apartment space, while avoiding the “Three Cs” (confined spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings).

Day-to-Day Life

All students will be required to wear face masks and sit at least 1 meter (approx. 3 feet) apart from other classmates. Faculty will also be required to wear masks. All classrooms to be used 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 Fall 2022 semester, access to the AKP Kyoto Center will be on an appointment-only basis, with the exception of emergencies. The AKP Student Lounge and other communal spaces within the Kyoto Center will also be unavailable for student use.

Doshisha’s library, Learning Commons, and other facilities remain open at this time. Doshisha has reduced the number of chairs and rearranged seats 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 has been reduced and arranged so that there is enough space between students. 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 overnight travel within Japan, particularly to any prefecture or area that is under a State of Emergency or other restrictions due to COVID-19. 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 dismissal from the program without refund.

Finances

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. Similarly, should you choose to withdraw before the semester begins, you will not be charged anything by AKP.

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. Unless you paid fees directly to AKP, AKP will issue the refund to your home institution, who will be responsible for dispersing that to you according to its own policies. 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.

Finally, AKP will also provide assistance with return airfare costs.

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 Fall 2022 acceptance to the Spring 2023 semester, please inform the AKP US Office. Please see AKP’s Deferral Policy for more information.

Note that students who have already deferred from Spring 2022 to Fall 2022 will need to reapply should they choose to defer past Fall 2022. However, their application fees for their new application will be waived.