UConn places five Storrs dormitories under quarantine as campus COVID-19 cases surge

Photo of Peter Yankowski

STORRS — The University of Connecticut has placed five student dorms under quarantine and restricted guests from other buildings on campus as COVID-19 cases have surged in recent days.

University officials say the outbreak may be related to large parties reported last weekend.

Over the past two days, 35 new cases were found on campus Dean of Students Eleanor JB Daugherty said Friday in a letter sent to the UConn community.

Those cases appear to be “centralized” in the North, Northwest, and Alumni dorm complexes, Daugherty wrote.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, the school is quarantining the Eddy, Middlesex, Windham, Rogers, and Russell dorms, Daugherty said.

“Positive tests usually emerge within 3 to 5 days of exposure. This suggests that this spike in positives may be related to large off-campus gatherings that were reported this past weekend,” Daugherty wrote.

State police said they responded to complaints about a large party off-campus in Mansfield last Saturday. When troopers arrived, they found more than 100 people inside the home, according to state police.

One of the homeowners was charged with violating the governor’s executive order on gathering size restrictions and allowing a minor to possess alcohol, state police said. A second attendee was arrested after she threw a can of an “alcoholic beverage” at police.

That same afternoon, state police responded to a report of a fight at a gathering at another home in Mansfield. By the time police arrived, they did not find anyone with injuries or who wished to make a complaint.

UConn officials have said they are investigating both incidents.

“These gatherings increase the risk of exposure and spread, which is much more likely to occur when we don’t follow universal precautions such as wearing masks and keeping physical distance,” Daugherty said in her letter.

Students under quarantine can get meals from quarantine dining halls, but will be restricted to remote learning and cannot attend events in-person, Daugherty said.

The remaining 16 buildings in the three complexes have been restricted from having guests, Daugherty said.

The letter said the university’s Student Health and Wellness center will determine when the residential quarantines can be lifted.

However, the letter made it clear the quarantines will remain in place through next week, after which students will transition to remote-only classes. Students who want to go home early will be allowed to do so.

“As we reach the end of the in-person period of instruction, I am sorry that these steps are necessary. As you know, it is our shared goal to keep this community healthy and safe,” Daugherty’s letter said. “Let’s continue to care for one another by wearing masks, keeping physical distance, and reducing spread. We’re almost there.”