Window signs prompt laundry, food donations to students locked down in UNB's Magee House
'I've never seen a community rally behind people like this before,' says resident living in lockdown
Violet Eliza-Sioux James taped a new message on her apartment window at the University of New Brunswick on Thursday morning.
James hung the New Brunswick flag in her window with folded paper in the shape of a heart to say thank you to community members who have shown support and offered help to students living in Magee House, a student residence in Fredericton with an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
"I've never seen a community rally behind people like this before. … Incredible neighbourliness and kindness that is sometimes hard to find these days."
To date, eight cases are "linked to" the outbreak declared Monday at Magee House, Public Health said.
The university residence is under lockdown until May 8.
Sending a message to the outside world
Earlier this week, James, her fiancé and their roommate each claimed a window inside their UNB apartment to put up posters. Among the messages: "No laundry," "Press welcome" and "We deserve care."
"During those first two, three days we really had nothing," James said. "We didn't have a lot of communication. We had barely any answers."
James said the posters were a representation of how people were feeling inside the residence.
Magee House has 101 apartment-style units for mature students. Many of the students living there are also new to Canada.
Following a CBC News article, the university residence held a virtual meeting Wednesday afternoon, where the stuents' concerns were addressed with university officials and an official from Public Health.
The Magee House residents were told they would be receiving laundry service and wouldn't have to pay grocery fees.
"We're able to move forward in a way that works for everyone, instead of just most people or just some people," James said.
The 23-year-old said she has received an outpouring of messages from people offering to help students dealing with food insecurity or who have young children.
People in Fredericton have been offering to drop off snacks and donations of items that might be needed.
"Other people were reaching out to say, 'We're behind you and we hear your story and we support you,'" said the environmental sciences student.
"That was absolutely amazing."
Since the lockdown started on Saturday, James has been cleaning her apartment with Lysol wipes and opening windows to get some fresh air.
She has asthma and her fiancé has a brain tumour.
Although she understands why the lockdown is happening, she said the situation has been "scary."
UNB says supports are in place
Heather Campbell, a spokesperson for the University of New Brunswick, said supports in place include better improved cleaning and sanitation service, grocery delivery, counselling services, activities for the children in Magee House, and on-site medical support.
She said a plan for laundry is being worked out, but grocery deliveries have been made since Sunday.
"As more contact tracing and testing is completed, plans and actions are revised, and this information is provided to students," she said in an emailed statement to CBC News on Thursday.
Campbell said the university is in daily contact with individuals and families living in the residences through emails, phone calls and Teams updates.
"A large team of staff are working around the clock to provide support to our students and our campus community."
James said talking about these services is a first step, but residents still need to see it happen.
"It's going to need to be put into place for it to be mission accomplished," said James, originally from Peterborough, Ont.
There are also still people inside Magee House who have questions.
"I would say we're taking the first steps for sure," she said.