Our mission of building a diverse community that co-stimulate, co-learn, and co-create together through HLAB’s design of transformative education and community building is deeply important to all of us. The rapidly evolving situation of COVID-19 has compelled us to change our usual practices in order to fulfill our mission. After a meeting with the Executive Officer, Shuta Takada, I am writing this message regarding the COVID-19 situation. While this statement will not provide all of the answers to your questions, it provides the framework for our collective thinking on how to proceed.
What is HLAB doing about COVID-19?
Currently, the plan of holding the summer school at Tokyo, Obuse, Tokushima, and Onagawa remains unchanged. As the situation in Japan and around the world changes, we will adapt accordingly. The final decision will be made sometime in June.
How likely is it that each region is cancelled?
The exact probability is difficult to estimate. HLAB is the main organizer of Tokyo and Tokushima Summer School, while Obuse and Onagawa are hosted by their respective prefectural governments. Obuse and Onagawa operate similarly in the sense that if one of them is cancelled due to an order from the Ministry of Education, the other one would most likely have to be canceled as well. However, if Obuse and Onagawa become canceled, their cancellations have no direct bearing over Tokyo and Tokushima. If a region is canceled, our preference would be to relocate all the participants, but that would have to depend on space availability.
Would HLAB institute travel bans for mentors from any specific country?
HLAB will not institute any travel bans in addition to those imposed by the Japanese government.
In the worst case scenario, what would happen to HLAB if no Global-Side mentors can attend the Summer School?
In that very unlikely and unfortunate case, the Summer School will continue. In the case of a massive dropout, Obuse and Onagawa participation numbers will be prioritized because their government funding depends on the number of college students in attendance.
As of right now, there is no significant change in the planning and operations of HLAB. Our top priority remains the welfare of the entire HLAB community. We will continue to provide regular updates on how we are responding to COVID-19. My experience at HLAB for the past 3 years is that we are at our best during a challenge. While there will no doubt be issues along the way, I believe that like any challenge, we will meet it successfully.
HLAB 2020 Global-Side Co-COO