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Petition calls for UVic campus to be closed to protect students from COVID-19

A petition being circulated at the University of Victoria calls for the campus to be closed to stop the spread of COVID-19 and “pre-emptively protect” students.
University of Victoria sign - generic photo
The petition says that although there are no reported cases of COVID-19 at UVic, it is impossible to know the extent of the threat it poses.

A petition being circulated at the University of Victoria calls for the campus to be closed to stop the spread of COVID-19 and “pre-emptively protect” students.

Started by Alexia Nicole Benn, it had close to 2,000 online supporters by Thursday afternoon.

The petition says that although there are no reported cases of COVID-19 at UVic, it is impossible to know the extent of the threat it poses.

There are high numbers of students who take public transportation, go to class, study in the library and eat in common areas, the petition says.

“Once the virus spreads it may have many unforeseen consequences. As students, we place great priority on our academics. However, current circumstances must be addressed,” the petition says.

“By continuing to ask students to come to school we are increasing the risk of not only being exposed to the disease but exposing our family members, our coworkers, our partners and other loved ones.”

The petition calls on the university to use technology so students can continue to learn remotely.

UVic said in a statement that it understands and appreciates the concern, but continues to take direction and guidance from public-health authorities in how to respond to the outbreak.

At Camosun College, president Sherri Bell issued a statement Thursday saying the possibility of closure has been discussed as the college community comes together to deal with a “rapidly changing situation.”

She said the college has committed to ensuring that students who need to stay away from class won’t be unreasonably affected as far as exam scheduling and assignment due dates.

The need for a doctor’s note for students and employees who are self-isolating has also been waived. Bell said individuals affected just need to let their supervisor or school know, adding self-isolation is recommended for those who have returned from regions with travel health notices or who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Additional wall-mounted hand sanitizers will be installed around the college, while spray units have been brought in to disinfect high-traffic areas.

The college has formed a COVID-19 response co-ordination team that meets daily.

jwbell@timescolonist.com