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Students Return to UConn for First Time Since Pandemic Began

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Students returned to the University of Connecticut Friday and many are returning for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of campus in March.

Others are moving in to start a college journey that will look very different from what classes before them experienced.  

Around 5,500 students are moving onto the Storrs campus over this weekend and every student will be tested for COVID-19 as soon as they arrive.

Sydney Williams, of Vienna, Virginia, was the first person in line on Friday morning.

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“A little nervous but very excited. It’s all just very new, especially with all the COVID stuff going on. It’s going to be interesting,” she said.

Because she traveled from a state on the list of COVID-19 hot spots that requires a 14-day quarantine, she will be living in a dorm by herself for two weeks.

After checking in, just one family member can go into the dorms with each student and everyone will be required to wear a face covering, follow signs that provide directions and socially distance as much as possible.

Families have been advised to bring their own hand truck or dolly because UConn will not provide carts this year.

In past years, volunteers helped carry students’ belongings, but Husky Haulers will not be able to help this year.

After moving in, students will be required to limit contact with people other than their roommates for the first 14 days on campus.

Amelia Henriques, a junior from Newtown, is a junior and moved in Friday.

She said she is nervous about the new COVID changes, but it’s time for her fellow classmates to change their habits.

“You can’t go to these large gatherings. You have to make these sacrifices to keep everyone safe. Not just yourself, but everyone else who’s on campus,” she said.

UConn officials said the school is requiring students to follow the university's code of conduct, which requires students to comply with health and safety measures.

If a student disobeys the rules and attends a large social gathering, the university could take action, such as suspension, probation or expulsion, according to UConn.

Students have been encouraged to pack lightly and plan on moving out by Nov. 21, when the semester will fully transition to online classes.

Earlier this week, UConn announced that out-of-state students who are taking only online classes will not be able to live on-campus to reduce the density at school in an effort to help reduce the risk of illness.

Sydney Williams has a hybrid class, so she was able to live on campus.

"It’s a privilege to be here. She is really fortunate that she has that one hybrid class so she can be here. Anyone who’s not willing to do everything they can to keep it going on should return home,” Kelli McCoy-Williams, of Vienna, Virginia, said.

Some families who had planned to move in, then learned they could not just days before move-in day, said they were shocked and disappointed.

"I think if we had this information earlier, our options would've been, you know more. I don't know what options we have at this point, it being, mid-August and schools are starting and ramping up," Melissa Jordan, of Clinton, Massachusetts, said.

"We were all packed and ready to go. Purchased everything for her dorm and she was devastated. I mean, literally broke down and cried," Jordan said.

As of Friday, UConn officials said more than 2,000 COVID-19 tests have been done on employees and students as they return to campus, and none have come back positive.

Learn more about the move-in process here.

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