Petition urges US school district to cancel classes over coronavirus
Woman on Plane with Mask AFP

As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, fueling rumors and misinformation, a petition to cancel all classes in one US school district for fear of the virus has garnered nearly 14,000 signatures.

The online petition posted on urges the Alhambra Unified School District located east of Los Angeles and with a heavily Asian population, to basically shut down until the outbreak is over.

"Studying while knowing that your life is in danger does not create a stable and safe learning environment and would make students take their mind off of studying which is a necessity to test scores," the petition states.

School district officials, however, have dismissed the petition as a bid to whip up hysteria over the deadly outbreak that has killed hundreds in China.

"This is an example of what contagious fear does when you do not look at facts and instead rely on false rumors and hysterical social media posts without even getting the facts," Toby Gilbert, a spokeswoman for the district, told AFP.

Gilbert said there were no plans to cancel classes and parents and students had been urged to depend on facts and science when seeking information about the outbreak.

More than 20,500 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide as of Tuesday and more than 400 people have died.

In the United States, 11 cases have been confirmed, including six in California.