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Coronavirus: UBC student launches petition to suspend in-person classes

‘UBC, which hosts over 10,000 students and staff every day, is a hot bed for the spread of the coronavirus’
ubc petition
A University of B.C. student has launched an online petition asking the school to suspend in-person classes. File photo Dan Toulgoet

A student is pleading for the suspension of in-person classes at the University of British Columbia over fears about the possible spread of coronavirus on campus.

UBC student Sean Lin created a Change.org campaign on Tuesday which calls for the suspension of all in-person instruction at the university as soon as possible. He argues that over 30 people had the virus in B.C. as of March 9, and that it could quickly spread on campus. 

"UBC, which hosts over 10,000 students and staff every day, is a hot bed for the spread of the coronavirus," writes Lin. "For the safety of students and staff members, UBC should suspend in-person instruction ASAP."

Since many lectures at UBC have upwards of 150 students in a closed room, Lin notes that students come into contact with thousands of individuals in a single day. He adds that a number of universities south of the border have already suspended in-person instruction, which include a number of Ivy League schools such as Yale and Harvard. 

"Lastly, from a personal note, I have not been able to focus in many of my lectures lately due to COVID-19," he remarks.

"I move seats and hold my breath whenever another student coughs near me. I live with my elderly grandparents, and I am in fear of bringing home a disease that is likely fatal for my grandparents."

Lin also notes that a significant number of other students wear masks to lecture, which he says demonstrates that he is not alone in his fear. 

The campaign has gotten more than 1,500 signatures in one day.

UBC is advising students, faculty, staff or visitors who have been to Hubei, China, Iran or Italy to stay home or self-isolate in their residence/room alone for 14 days, immediately on their return. In addition, they should monitor themselves daily for symptoms (fever, cough, muscle aches, difficulty breathing).

Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 by laboratory testing is also advised to stay home or self-isolate in their residence/room alone for 14 days after their last encounter.

UBC adds that it is, "currently not aware of any cases amongst our students, faculty and staff, both within B.C. or abroad. In the event of a confirmed case, information would be provided to the public by the relevant health agency, according to their protocols."

The university also schedules daily routine cleaning and follows industry cleaning standards laid out by the Association for Higher Education Facilities Officers (APPA).

A new toll-free phone line has also been established for Canadians (1-833-784-4397) to answer general questions about COVID-19.

Anyone who is concerned they, or someone they have been exposed to, may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their health-care provider or call public health at 811. For more information and the latest updates, visit here.

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