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More than 540 UConn students under quarantine due to coronavirus cases

Five residence halls were placed under quarantine after 11 people on campus and 23 off campus tested positive for coronavirus.
Image: University of Connecticut (UConn) main campus, Storrs, Connecticut
University of Connecticut (UConn) main campus, Storrs, on Sept 16, 2011.Carol M. Highsmith / Buyenlarge/Getty Images file

More than 540 students at the University of Connecticut are under quarantine amid increased coronavirus cases on and off campus, the school said.

The quarantine began Wednesday morning and affects five residence halls, according to a letter Tuesday from the university's dean of students.

"This morning, I was made aware of 11 on-campus and 23 off-campus positive test results," Eleanor JB Daugherty wrote.

"Unfortunately, our good health and this good weather may have invited some of us to be more relaxed in our behaviors. This is our highest number of positive cases reported in a single day since testing began at UConn."

Stephanie Reitz, a university spokeswoman, said in an email to NBC News on Wednesday that there are about 544 students who live in the five halls.

"With the holidays so close, it is essential that we take significant steps to contain the spread of this virus at UConn. We do this not only for ourselves, but for those loved ones we are so eager to see in good health," Daugherty said in the letter.

Belden, Batterson, Tolland, Middlesex and Werth halls will remain under quarantine "until further notice," the university said.

Reitz said that the 11 on-campus students who tested positive have been moved to isolation areas and the remaining students living in the halls will be tested to "determine if others may also have been affected."

"We tend to quarantine students for a minimum of 10 to 14 days, and would release the quarantine once the percentage of positive tests has dropped and we have confidence that the spread has been halted," she said.

Throughout the fall semester, other residence halls at the university have been placed under quarantine after cases of Covid-19 popped up on campus.

Reitz said that quarantining the halls has been successful in helping to prevent further spread of the virus.

She added, "Our students have been very impressive in their level of cooperation, and they get all of the credit for helping us quash the outbreaks as they’ve come up."

The students living in the five halls currently under quarantine will all be tested, attend online classes and can participate in take-out dining from designated quarantine dining halls.

"If the quarantine period extends beyond Nov. 20th, when the residence halls close for winter recess, students will receive guidance on how to quarantine at home if they choose to do so," Daugherty wrote in the letter, warning that placing the halls under quarantine "may only be a first step."

"The University continues to vigorously monitor testing and waste water to determine if additional measures are necessary," she said.