Move University of Michigan classes online before 2019-nCoV spreads

This petition made change with 10,198 supporters!

In December, the first cases of 2019-nCoV appeared in Wuhan, China. At that point it seemed distant, and many authorities in the US brushed it off as a non-issue. In only weeks, 2019-nCoV has become a widespread pandemic and a nation-wide catastrophe in multiple countries. The coronavirus is spreading rapidly throughout clusters in the USA, and only now are people finally paying attention to the potential dangers at hand.

It has been proven that victims of 2019-nCoV can remain asymptomatic for up to 14 days - in edge cases, that asymptomatic period has appeared to be even longer yet. It has been proven that 2019-nCoV can spread even in its "incubation period". Infected people can spread this disease before realizing that they even have it as they appear asymptomatic. It's the perfect storm for an infectious disease. Furthermore, on March 3 the WHO released an official estimated mortality rate of 3.4%. While it is true that college-aged young adults are not considered an "at risk" group for this virus, what about the older parents, grandparents, faculty, and staff that they regularly see and can spread the virus to? Regardless, people of almost all age groups have suffered severe consequences from 2019-nCoV. To brush it off, at this point, is naive and willfully ignorant.

Many schools across the US have preemptively moved all classes online because they recognize the risk this disease poses to their students. Many universities - including the University of Michigan Ann Arbor - are set up such that infectious diseases spread incredibly quickly. Students share dormitories, communal bathrooms, tightly packed lecture halls, dining halls - essentially everything. And now that Spring Break has ended, almost 50,000 students who've been to many corners of the country and the world are all congregating once again in close quarters with their peers. This is the perfect environment for an infectious and dangerous disease to spread. No matter how many hand sanitizing stations we set up throughout classrooms, all it takes for 2019-nCoV to spread is an infected person coughing. And due to the incubation period, we have no way of telling if the disease is on campus.

Why are we being reactive instead of proactive? We should not wait for the first confirmed case of 2019-nCoV in Ann Arbor to take action. That's the kind of mistake that's put many areas in a dire state. This is a plea for the University of Michigan to move classes online now. It's better to be careful now, even if the coronavirus somehow isn't on campus, than to be sorry later with thousands infected and infecting others at an uncontrollable rate.

PLEASE ALSO CONSIDER: For students of low socioeconomic status, the cancellation of university housing and meal plans could be financially ruinous. There are students who cannot afford the sudden transportation of themselves and their personal belongings home. If dorms shut down, please consider giving accommodations and/or partial refunds of meal plans and housing fees to students affected by this, especially to international students and those with financial need.

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