PETALING JAYA: Some Malaysian students in the United States are in distress as they have been told to leave their on-campus accommodation as a preventive measure to stop the spread of Covid-19.
A 23-year-old who studies in an Ivy League University in Massachusetts said she was informed on Wednesday that all students have 10 days to leave their on-campus accommodations beginning tomorrow.
She added that she is trying to return to Malaysia as soon as she can.
“But I have to pack all my belongings and figure out where I’m going to store my stuff since I can’t bring everything back with me, ” she said.
“Alums have come together and created a Google sheet that is being shared with students for emergency housing and storage options, as well as an emergency fund for students who do not have the financial means to go home.
“The college is only allowing a limited number of students to stay on-campus. Everyone else must move out, ” she continued.
The student also said her professors are trying to figure out how to alter their class material and structure now to accommodate the move to the online platform.
According to an email she received from the college, there are no known cases of infection at the college but they are trying to minimise contact as one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus.
Being told to evacuate on-campus accommodation was not a nationwide directive in the US though. The student’s mother said her daughter was flustered and even cried when she was given the very short notice.
Another student, from the Midwest, said her university has shifted all classes online until April 5 and that they should still be able to graduate on time. There has been no directive to leave their student accommodation.
The same was said by National Assembly of Malaysian Students in America (Namsa) president Ahmad Mohsein Azman, 23.
He added his university – University of Michigan, Ann Arbor – has cancelled all physical classes since the outbreak began to worsen.“Regarding students being asked to leave on-campus accommodations, that appears to be isolated cases in a small number of universities that started preventive measures early
“For now, most universities that have a considerably large Malaysian student population have closed down and opted for alternative teaching methods, ” said the Namsa president, adding that there are around 8,000 Malaysians studying in the US.
“For the most part, students are asked to stay at home (whether on or off campus) and avoid unnecessary social contact.”
Ahmad Mohsein added that they have not received any reports of Malaysian students being infected with the virus.
“We’re working together with Education Malaysia Washington DC and the Malaysian Embassy to ensure that students are informed of the latest updates and take preventive measures as stipulated by the Malaysia Health Ministry and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ” he said.
The South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday that Harvard University students were given five days’ notice to leave campus and told to stay home until the end of the semester.
According to the CDC website, institutions of higher learning should temporarily suspend classes, postpone or delay events as a strategy to stop or slow the further spread of the virus.
When classes are suspended, the institution may stay open for staff or faculty (unless ill) while students temporarily stop attending in-person classes.
To ensure continuity of safe housing in cases where Covid-19 has not been identified among residents of on-campus community housing, students may be allowed to remain in on-campus housing.
There are currently more than 1,100 Covid-19 cases in the US with 36 fatalities.