Chinese universities have begun sending students home as protests over the country's "zero-COVID" policy and calls for President Xi Jinping's resignation gain momentum.
Universities across Beijing, as well as the southern province of Guangdong, have already started sending students home, quelling prospects of future student protests. At least 10 universities so far have sent students away, with schools also announcing final exams will be conducted remotely.
Even Xi's alma mater, Tsinghua University, told students Sunday they would be sent home for the semester, arranging buses to transport students to airports and train stations. Nine of the university's dorms were closed Monday after a handful of students tested positive for COVID-19.
Beijing Forestry University also announced its students would be sent home, stating all the university's students and faculty tested negative for the virus.
One student, who gave the Associated Press his surname of Chen out of fear of retribution, noted the dorm closures would make it harder for crowds to gather as the protests gain momentum.
Most recently, between 200 and 300 students from Tsinghua University protested against the country's lockdown measures, calling for "rule of law and freedom of expression". A viral photo of the protest shows students holding up math equations instead of phrases or slogans, specifically the Friedmann equation.
Hong Kong activist Nathan Law retweeted the photo, writing: "Students from the elite school Tsinghua University protested with Friedmann equation. I have no idea what this equation means, but it does not matter. It's the pronunciation: it's similar to "free的man" (free man)—a spectacular and creative way to express, with intelligence."
A Tsinghua student, who requested to be kept anonymous, told the South China Morning Post that the university held a hybrid meeting Monday following the protests to discuss COVID-related measures with students.
Guo Yong, the university's deputy party secretary, said no protestor would be held responsible. The same Tsinghau student told the South China Morning Post she has yet to hear of anyone getting in trouble following Yong's statement.
The protests and public outrage were initially spurred by a deadly apartment fire in Urumqi that left at least 10 dead. Many believe that the rescue response was delayed due to China's lockdown restrictions, with some saying these same restrictions worsened the death toll.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.