Sophia School Corporation's approach to the novel coronavirus
Chancellor, Sophia School Corporation
April 1, 2020
To students of all schools under the Sophia School Corporation, and
Parent and Guarantors,
I would like to inform you of the measures that Sophia School Corporation ("the Corporation") has been taking in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Corporation has considered and implemented measures prioritizing the safety of our students and faculty and staff members and doing our best to reduce anxiety, and at the same time fulfilling our social responsibility of not spreading the disease.
I would like to invite you to overcome this challenge by taking the actions that each of us should take, remaining calm and uniting our hearts to conquer the anxiety that we share about the uncertain future. I ask for the cooperation and understanding of our students, parents and guarantors.
1．Impact of the novel coronavirus
Given the spread of the novel coronavirus, we are experiencing large impacts on our social lives, with the government asking us to refrain from holding large events and closing elementary, junior high and high schools. In Tokyo, we have been asked to refrain from going out during the weekend and in the evening for unnecessary or non-urgent purposes, and the consequences may increase in the future.
Under these circumstances, the schools under the Corporation have minimalized or cancelled their graduation ceremonies and our students have been very cooperative in limiting their activities in many dimensions as requested by their schools. I am very concerned that you have not been able to engage in the activities that you had planned during this spring break, which were supposed to be valuable opportunities for you to expand your knowledge and experiences in extracurricular activities outside the classroom.
With the spread of the disease in other countries, overseas internships have become limited and we have had to cancel study abroad programs and the receiving of international students.
2．The Corporation's approach
Amid such chaos, the faculty and staff of the Corporation have renewed their acknowledgement of our educational spirit, "Men and Women for Others, with Others" and are determined to support our students and make every effort to organize an academic environment for them to spend their student life in safety and security. We have not yet found any of our students or faculty and staff to be infected by the virus, but will take various measures to prioritize the prevention of infection.
For example, Sophia University has decided to postpone the beginning of class in the spring semester and have started to discuss in detail the possibilities of introducing online classes. It also continues to prohibit holding events and to request students to refrain from engaging in extracurricular activities. Each secondary school has also flexibly responded to the circumstances by holding their entrance ceremonies in a minimal style and changing their annual schedules.
If any of our students should encounter difficulties in continuing their studies for economic reasons due to the novel coronavirus, we are ready to utilize the Corporation's scholarship program to support them in continuing a fulfilling student life.
*Details regarding the measures to be taken by each school will be posted on the respective websites as soon as decisions are made.
Faculty and staff at Sophia School Corporation are determined to join forces to continue our research and education activities in way that students, parents and guarantors can feel secure.
3．To students who will start a new page of their lives this spring
I would like to extend my words of congratulations and encouragement in writing to those joining Sophia this spring, as I have no opportunity to meet you in person at the Entrance Ceremony.
Congratulations to all of you who are starting a new stage of your education. I would also like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the families and guarantors, and others concerned who share this joy.
Now, as you start a new school, how do you envision the days to come? May it still be vague, I am sure that you are envisioning some kind of goal, an aim or value that you wish to pursue, hoping to achieve it in the future.
It is a very important time for those who are taking your first step. The first step will significantly affect the rest of the path you will follow. Please think quietly about your goal. Is it valuable enough to spend your life pursuing it? What am I trying to achieve? How and with whom are you going to achieve it? These are also important points to consider, but particularly important is your motive. What drives you to take that path?
When Pope Francis visited Sophia University in November last year, His Holiness said to the students and faculty and staff of Sophia that he expected us to become people who have "learned how to choose, responsibly and freely, what he or she knows in conscience is best." It takes time to know what is best and to confirm that the choice was made responsibly and freely – in other words, led by an appropriate motive. The future awaiting you will be a journey of discernment.
To those of you entering Sophia University, the Junior School Division, the School of Social Welfare or the Course of Midwifery, I would like you, in these early days of higher education, where you will acquire high expertise, to quietly ask your heart and imagine: Attracted to the educational spirit of Sophia, "Men and Women for Others, with Others" and freeing yourselves from your narrow ego, what can you do, or what would you like to do for the world and the diverse people living in it, as well as for the Earth, "our Common House?" I would like you to structure and integrate your future academic pursuit from these perspectives.
To rephrase this request for those of you starting junior high school, I would like you to think about what kind of person you are, what you wish to achieve, and what you value during the six years of your secondary school life. Six years may seem long now, but they will pass by very quickly. To make your youthful days in junior high and high school enriched and fulfilling, please make a personal pledge on this special day of starting secondary school.
I pray that the coming days of learning at Sophia will be rich and fulfilling days for all of you.