When a group of Mansfield residents learned that more than 700 University of Connecticut students were placed under quarantine in an off-campus apartment complex, they wanted to know how they could help.
"These students are young adults. They are away from home, sometimes for the first time," said Heather Evans, who lives near campus. "A lot of them are physically sick or they are stressed and worried about getting sick."
Evans had the idea on Saturday morning to create care packages for the students who were asked to quarantine in The Oaks on the Square apartment complex. She put out the idea to several community groups. By Monday, more than 50 people came together with donations to create 550 care packages. The community raised more than $1,800 to make it happen.
"They are being asked to stay home for two weeks to quarantine. We are asking them to keep us safe and to care about us enough. So I thought we as a community have to care about them," said Evans. "They are our neighbors. They are part of our community.”
All students living in The Oaks on the Square, an off-campus apartment complex adjacent to campus, were directed to self-quarantine Friday after the university and the health district detected a cluster of COVID-19 cases connected to the apartments.
“The spread appears to be occurring within small social groups," said Robert Miller, director of health for the Eastern Highlands Health District. "We are not seeing any indication that the broader Mansfield community and its residents are at greater risk."
Ben Klau, a sophomore at the university, is one of the students under quarantine. Because Klau, and many of the other students, are not symptomatic and have not tested positive for the virus at this point, they are allowed to leave the apartment for necessities like grocery shopping. The students are asked to self-quarantine at all other times and they are taking their classes online.
If a student is symptomatic or has tested positive for the virus, they are under a medical isolation.
Klau said that students have been compliant. He has not heard of any gatherings since the quarantine was announced.
"They have been taking it seriously and not going outside and stuff," said Klau, who video-chatted with NBC Connecticut from his apartment.
He said he appreciates the Mansfield neighbors thinking about him and the other students by making care packages.
According to UConn, all students living in the apartment complex will be tested within the next 7 to 10 days.
As of Monday, the university was reporting 33 COVID-19 cases currently on campus and 93 off-campus.