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Several Sydney Universities Are Remaining Open Amidst The COVID-19 Outbreak And Students Are Not Happy About It

"Don't put the rest of your staff and students at risk by leaving the campus open, anything less is negligence."

Since its outbreak in December last year, COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has infected more than 180,000 people worldwide and resulted in over 7,000 reported deaths.

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As at 1 p.m. on 16 March 2020, there have been 298 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and 5 deaths.

Many businesses, private schools and aged care homes across Australia have gone into lockdown as a result — in an effort to "flatten the curve" and ensure the virus spreads more slowly.

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But in Sydney, on the advice of NSW Health, some major university campuses are remaining open — including University of Sydney and University of New South Wales.

❗ #COVID-19 update. For more information, please visit: https://t.co/JV8lPjBLjj

⚠️ #CORONAVIRUS UPDATE (16 March): We are continuing to carefully follow the guidance of @NSWHealth in our response to COVID-19. It is now sensible to take these additional steps to help shape the profile of the epidemic.

However, where possible, both USYD and UNSW are moving classes online.

Both universities have urged students who are unwell to remain at home, but for those who are attending classes to practice "social distancing" and "healthy hygiene habits" while on-campus.

And students of both universities have a lot to say about it:

@UNSW @NSWHealth Can you explain how this advice incorporates 'social distancing' with commuting to campus via public transport?

@UNSW @NSWHealth I don't understand why we can't just close down the campus to prevent large numbers. Don't make the same mistake as the European countries made it. This term can be completed online. Therefore, it's illogical to continue.

@Sydney_Uni exponential nature of this virus and what that implies when there is already a confirmed case. I sincerely hope that the university will be PROACTIVE instead of REACTIVE in handling the virus. When you are reactive to a fast moving virus such as this it will already be too late.

@Sydney_Uni How do you keep 1.5m distance between students at lectures tomorrow? (recommended by the government today). What steps have you taken to protect staff that are in a high risk group (such as older staff)?

@Sydney_Uni Sydney uni cant/wont do what Harvard and Princeton did! Why can't they move classes online now? What are you waiting for?

@Sydney_Uni You have a confirmed case and continue to keep the campus open. Don't put the rest of your staff and students at risk by leaving the campus open, anything less is negligence.

@Sydney_Uni #FlattenTheCurve #staythefuckhome #lockusdown #CloseTheSchools #CloseTheSchoolsNow

Meanwhile, the University of Technology Sydney has paused all coursework for one week starting today, to enable "a shift from face-to-face delivery, to modes which support social distancing and remote support."

Following the advice of NSW Health and other government authorities UTS is pausing teaching for a week from tomorrow, but not closing, details here: https://t.co/5oRaqGavKG

While coursework is paused, campus is still open.

Western Sydney University also released a statement yesterday advising that they were introducing "a range of new, precautionary measures, aimed at decreasing the time our students and staff need to spend on campus, and help slow the spread of the virus in our community."

Many Aussies are calling for the government to #LockdownAustralia. This is a possibility, but not a step health officials are recommending yet.

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A large scale lockdown has several complicating factors — for instance, closing schools could force health workers to stay home and put strain on the system, or put kids in contact with their grandparents who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Yesterday, PM Scott Morrison responded to an enquiry from ABC Radio's AM presenter Sabra Lane, suggesting a total lockdown was not in the best interest of the public.

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"It’s not the medical advice of the state health officers and the Chief Medical Officer," Morrison explained.

"It would mean that we would have nurses and others who are forced to stay at home and not be in the public health system and supporting the broader community treatment of the virus."

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You can keep up-to-date with all of our most recent coverage of the coronavirus here.

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