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Burlington 'Box it in' program seeing few takers

(WCAX)
Published: Jun. 8, 2020 at 4:58 PM EDT
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Are returning college students abiding by Burlington's 'box it in' program to prevent the spread of the coronavirus? One week into the plan, our Kiernan Brisson spoke to the city and students to find out what's going on.

"My role has been mostly focused on getting the testing arranged and organized so that we can help students who are quarantining and want to get off quarantine early," said Michelle Paavola with UVM Student Health Services.

The testing is aimed at students who recently moved back into Burlington to start annual leases on June 1st. Many came from out of state and are subject to the Vermont's 14-day quarantine rules, unless they opt for a seven-day quarantine and then a test.

"There are 72 today and it's a little bit less response than what we we're hoping for, but hopefully we'll get the word out more so more students will sign up," Paavola said.

Students participating in the program say they've been able to keep themselves busy self-isolating for the past week.

"It's been going pretty smoothly. I had a lot of unpacking to do anyway, so it took up a fair amount of time," said Helen Salvatore, a UVM student from Massachusetts.

But a large majority of returning students are not taking part in the voluntary program. Out of the estimated 1,200 students that are returning to Vermont from out-of-state, UVM says only about 100 have signed up for the program. City and state officials are concerned the returning students could spread COVID-19 in the community or among each other if they gather in large groups.

Students we spoke to who are not taking part in the testing program say that they are still following all state health guidelines.

"I think it's important to be cautious with whatever you do and wear masks and all that stuff," said Dani Paterno, a UVM student from New Jersey.

"I definitely think following the state guidelines are important, but I think the staying home for seven to fourteen days is kind of a lot," added Reilly Drab, a UVM student from New York.

The testing site will be available to students for the next week and is open all students, not just those taking part in the program.

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