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Univ. in Japan apologizes for professor's threat to expel students leaving prefecture

This screenshot taken on April 14, 2020 shows an apology on Ohu University's official website over a male professor's email telling students they would be kicked out for traveling outside of Fukushima Prefecture.

A male professor at a university in northeastern Japan told students they would be kicked out of school if they traveled outside of the prefecture where the university is located, it has been learned.

Classes resumed at Ohu University in Fukushima Prefecture city of Koriyama this month, but to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, students were asked to avoid traveling to and returning from areas under a state of emergency. A university spokesperson told the Mainichi Shimbun that the professor "apparently went too far in warning students." The university has posted an apology over the matter on its website.

In April, the professor in the faculty of dentistry sent emails to students saying, "Do not travel outside of Fukushima Prefecture until May 6 (when the state of emergency is due to be lifted). Please conform to this request even in areas where a state of emergency hasn't been declared. If we find out about you (not following the request), you will be expelled. Similarly, you are asked to refrain from inviting relatives and friends from outside of the prefecture."

Ohu University, however, says it does not intend to kick out any students for failing to comply with the request.

According to a university representative, classes including hospital training programs started as usual in April. The representative explained, "We're taking excessive care to avoid the risk of infections, including the three Cs (of confined spaces, crowded places and close contact with people). Clinical training has begun at an affiliated hospital. As many students are from other prefectures, we instructed them to avoid going and coming back from Tokyo and other places."

In Fukushima Prefecture, universities including Fukushima University, Nihon University's College of Engineering in the city of Koriyama, and Koriyama Women's University and College have postponed classes until after the "Golden Week" holiday period in May. Fukushima Medical University has also postponed training programs at hospitals for medical students.

Moreover, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori has asked residents to refrain from visiting areas under a state of emergency for nonessential and nonurgent reasons.

(Japanese original by Shuji Ozaki, Tokyo Local News Group)

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