P-TECH Taiwan: Going back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic

Thank you to P-TECH Taiwan students Benson Wang, Simon Hu, Anson Liu, Evan Ho, Anne Hsieh and Sunnie Zhan for a view into a typical school day!

Early government and school actions allowed Taiwan to be one of the rare countries to continue school in person amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early government and school action

“Before the new semester kicked-off, we were quite worried that there would be a potential lockdown like other parts of the world. Therefore, we took the instructions from Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) very seriously and implemented measures such as temperature checks and school entrance control to ensure that our teachers and students are fully protected … We also urged teachers and students to wear face masks in class at all times and maintain proper social distance outside to protect themselves while protecting others.”

– Professor Zi-Gui Haung

A cross-sector collaborative effort:

The ability to open schools is due in large part to the collaborative effort between manufacturing and information computer technology (ICT) sectors and a combination of software and hardware skills. The blend of technologies, industries, communication and collaboration required to set up production lines, coordinate pharmacies at which to buy masks, minimize queues to purchase, setting up a pre-order system on mobile devices and general citizen education measures served as a real-time example to P-TECH students on how their unique education of blended secondary, post-secondary and career integration applies to our lives today. In Professor Huang’s words, “It is a really good example for our students to see how what they are learning today makes a huge impact on the society.”

P-TECH Taiwan’s contribution to medical equipment shortages:

When Dr. Jui-Hung Cheng heard from one of his friends working in a hospital about the shortage of protective equipment he immediately decided to form a team comprising of his P-TECH, university and graduate class to leverage 3D printing technologies and easy-to-gather materials to produce face shields and ear guards for the medical personnel.

Jeff Wang, Father
May 12, 2020

Q: Looking back to the beginning, how did you feel knowing that the school start date was postponed with no confirmed return date as of that time?

When we learned that it was postponed, we really didn’t want the kids to stay home for too long, as we were worried that it might delay their progress at school.

As parents, we know nothing about helping them to arrange a studying schedule and course plan.

Fortunately, my mother, who is retired, can watch over them during the extended vacation, but is not capable of monitoring their study.

Regarding the impact of the epidemic, I choose to believe that the Ministry of Education and the epidemic prevention units will take proper measures to ensure the children’s return back to school is carried out in a safe manner!

Q: What new changes have been brought to your life by the epidemic?

We are concerned about our kids taking the public transport to school. So I drive them to school and pick them up every day.

Q: Since the start of school, have you felt grateful for anything?

I’m grateful for the school for thoroughly implementing anti-epidemic measures.

My son also mentioned the use of IBM shared resources in online learning, and the upcoming tutoring system. I’d like to thank IBM for providing students with these resources. That’s why we choose IBM P-TECH for Benson, so that he can get a taste of a real workplace early.

Chih Cheng Lu
Director of Intelligent Automation Engineering, Taipei Tech

Q: How has the school operated after going back to normal? Are there any new change in routines?

In accordance with the Anti-epidemic Measures issued by the Ministry of Education, we have reduced school entries and exits, leaving only two entrances to measure and record the body temperature of each person passing through, disinfected the public areas and classrooms daily, promoted frequent hand washing and required the wearing of masks during class.

Q: Since the start of school, have you felt grateful for anything?

Taiwan is fortunate enough that the situation is well controlled, so that schools do not need to be closed. We can continue with the existing education model, whilst we gradually introduce long distance teaching, giving people time to adjust to the changes.

Ting-Hsuan Ho
P-TECH Taiwan Student, Department of Mold and Die Engineering, National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology

Q: How did you feel to go back to school in March? 

I was very excited at that time. Because of the coronavirus, the beginning of school semester was postponed. I had not seen my classmates for a long time. Actually, I didn’t feel scared at that time.

Q: How does school work and what differences you’ve observed?

In addition to entering the school with student ID and temperature checked, registration and disinfection are required when entering and leaving school clubs. Student ID is also required when entering and leaving the school cafeteria and face masks are required when in classroom. Besides that, there is not too much difference.

Q. Is there anything that you’re grateful for?

I would like to thank all the first-line medical staff and the second-line inspectors. If it were not for their hard work and overtime inspections to take care of the patients infected with coronavirus and bear the risks of being infected themselves, maybe Taiwan would not have been as safe as it is now. I would also like to thank all the staff of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) for their due diligence to formulate policies and alleviate the anxiety of the people across the country so that the people of Taiwan feel relatively safe and calm during the pandemic. I also want to thank the guards in front of our school. Rain or shine, they help restrict outsiders from entering and leaving the campus, so that we have a relatively safe learning environment.

Q: Any advice and/or words of encouragement/experience sharing for the rest of the world that is still working through distance/virtual learning?

The safe environment in Taiwan is created by all the people in the whole country. Don’t just hang out because you don’t have to go to school. Although there is no way for teachers to teach face-to-face, you can still find a lot of teaching resources on the Internet and make good use of them. You can use your own self-study period to learn some other different knowledge. I believe you can still have a fulfilling life while at home.  I believe that we will all overcome the pandemic and usher in a better future soon.