A dormitory on the University of New England’s Biddeford campus will go into lockdown after COVID-19 cases were reported among students there.
University health officials detected three positive COVID-19 cases among the 158 students and one staff member living at Featherman Hall, according to Director of Student Health Services Paul Berkner.
The students are believed to have contracted the virus during an event off campus, Berkner said Thursday night. They have been moved into isolation or opted to go home. Several of the students’ close contacts have been moved to alternate housing and are awaiting test results.
“Out of abundance of caution and because nearly all of the affected students reside in Featherman Hall, we have made the decision to quarantine all residents of that dormitory, at least until Tuesday,” Berkner said.
All students living in the co-ed dorm are in their first year at the school with the exception of resident advisers, university spokesperson Sarah DeLage said. They will attend classes remotely, receive meal deliveries and receive extensive testing over the weekend and through next week.
The private university ramped up testing last month for the 3,984 students at its Portland and Biddeford campuses after outbreaks in York County. University President James Herbert encouraged students to “come forward for testing as needed” and will be “granted immunity” from conduct violations.
“If a gathering is discovered by UNE staff in a dorm or off-campus location and participating individuals have not self-identified, they will be subject to conduct violations, whereas if one or more participants come forward to identify that they participated, no one who attended the event will be subject to conduct violation repercussions,” Herbert said in September.
The university is not testing its roughly 1,800 employees, who are instructed to find testing through their health care providers.
Berkner acknowledged the quarantine at Featherman Hall is “extremely difficult,” but called it the “safest decision” in responding to the virus cases.