MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An entire college campus is under a two-week quarantine in southeastern Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Health says around 200 cases of COVID-19 are linked to Winona State University.

All the students WCCO spoke with Tuesday night said they had a feeling this day would come; not because the university wasn’t taking enough precautions, but just that an outbreak on a college campus felt inevitable.

The rainfall and gray skies across the campus matched the dreary feeling students had upon learning of the quarantine. Makenna Wehner and Erin Thomas are sophomores.

“Not that surprised. A little disappointed,” Wehner said.

“It was just a matter of time, really,” Thomas said.

The campus is now closed to the public. Students can still access buildings with their ID cards, such as the library, student union and dining hall. But in-person classes, for the most part, are now online.

Clara Kuerschner serves as the university’s student senate president.

“Maybe I’m surprised that it happened so fast,” Kuerschner said.

Students feel the university has done a solid job with COVID-19 precautions, such as having one-way hallways and requiring masks when indoors. Some professors were hosting classes outside under tents.

“I felt really safe. I had a lab on campus. We had to sanitize before we went in, after, and then they come in and do it again,” Wehner said.

But some worry the bar scene downtown or off-campus parties and other social gatherings might be leading to an increase in cases.

“It’s way harder for the university to control what we do when we’re not on campus,” Kuerschner said.

She feels the university is being prompt with email alerts to students, but questions about quarantine remain.

“I think there’s more confusion for the off-campus students, especially those that have full online schedules,” Kuerschner said. “If they don’t have a class on campus, are they allowed to be on campus?”

Wehner and Thomas both got COVID-19 tests recently.

“Just because I do have some in-person classes, it was just to be, for the safety of my professors and the students around me,” Thomas said.

It’s the personal responsibility to take the virus seriously that they hope their classmates will share.

Last week, University President Scott Olson said the cases aren’t scattered across campus, but isolated to social groups and specific social gatherings, making it easier for them to identify and isolate cases.

Jeff Wagner

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