Shut Down ALL Universities & Schools in New Zealand to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

This petition made change with 18,223 supporters!

To: Chris Hopkins, Jacinda Ardern, Ashley Bloomfield, and whoever else it may concern;

In just a matter of months, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread across the world like wildfire, where multiple countries have failed to contain the virus. With a total of nearly 200,000 cases and approximately 8,000 deaths worldwide, it is something that should not be taken lightly. 

As a fellow student at the University of Auckland, I have been concerned about how the Government, as well as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, has decided to handle this situation. As of 18th of March, 2020, we currently have 20 cases in New Zealand, where all cases have been linked to being overseas, and have not contracted it through face-to-face interaction. Jacinda Adern has addressed this issue, stating that all events with 500 people or more to be cancelled, with the exception of schools and universities around the nation still going forward and operating as usual, where the Ministry of Education "would be working to reduce gatherings as much as possible"

But, why? Schools and Universities are just as likely to be hotspots for the virus to spread. Classes have an average of 21 students, and some may go to other classes for different subjects, mingling with other classmates and teachers, increasing the risk of infection. Universities are worse, with lecture theatres that can seat up hundreds of students at a time. Using the University of Auckland as an example, the OGGB Fisher & Paykel lecture theatres can seat up to 570 people, with there being multiple lectures a day. In addition to this, many students commute to school and university every day, where they come into contact with many others, touching possibly contaminated and unclean surfaces. Every day, 270,000 trips are taken on public transport, JUST in Auckland. Waiting for there to be a case before closing down a school or university is illogical, as it could have been spread to hundreds of others before being discovered.

Although there have been no cases of COVID-19 being contracted through a face to face situation, it is not a risk that the Government should take. The dormant period for the virus can be up to 15 days, and some people can be asymptomatic. Taking in the consideration of the highly contagious nature of the virus, it is better to be safe than sorry, which is why I, along with many other concerned citizens that have signed this petition request for all schools and universities in New Zealand to be temporarily closed for the time being, or at least until the virus has died down so that we can self-isolate at home.

With this being said, there are also a couple of issues that arise, if schools and universities across the nation close down. such as:

  • Working families relying on their paycheck, with no expendable income
  • Health workers going to work leaving children behind at home or;
  • With their grandparents, increasing the risk of the elderly contracting the virus
  • Students not having access to technology or the internet to continue studying 

However, Work and Income NZ has recently come out with the 'COVID-19 Employer Support' which could help out with those who do not have expendable income, and students who do not have the means to study through online classes could continue studying remotely.  

Ways that we can combat the above-stated problems through discussion would be hugely appreciated. I want to make sure that everyone is safe and that the risk of spread of COVID-19 is minimalized, and those who do not have the means to self-isolate are given the chance to also do so.

I do hope that the issue of not closing down schools and universities until a case has broken out to be rethought about and for Government Officials to consider closing down schools and universities for self-isolation to combat the spread of COVID-19. 








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