Answer Bank: Guidance for institutes of higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic
By She Jingwei

Institutions of higher education (IHE) that are working together with local health departments amid the COVID-19 pandemic have a significant role in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, and protecting vulnerable students, staff, and faculty to help ensure a safe and healthy learning environment.   

As the number of global COVID-19 cases continues to surge, most governments across the globe have temporarily closed educational institutions in a bid to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

According to UNESCO, nationwide closures are impacting over 91 percent of the world's student population. Several other countries have implemented localized closures impacting millions of additional learners. However, all decisions about implementing IHE-based strategies (e.g., class suspensions, event cancellations, other social distancing measures) are made in collaboration with local health officials.  

Thus, the following guidance for institutes of higher education during the pandemic is highly recommended:  

1. Encourage your staff or community members to protect their personal health. 
2. Post the signs and symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cough, shortness of breath. 
3. Clean surfaces that are frequently touched – things such as shared desks, countertops, kitchen areas, electronics, and doorknobs. 
4. Limit events and meetings that require close contact. 
5. Stay up to date on developments in your community. 
6. Create an emergency plan for possible outbreak. 
7. Assess if community members are at higher risk and plan accordingly. 

Now that China is showing signs of virus containment, students in the final year of senior and junior high schools in many provinces have gradually returned to campus. When other students can return to school will still depend on the epidemic situation. But the most important thing is to have sufficient epidemic prevention supplies and emergency response measures. 

(Cover image designed by Sa Ren)