St. Olaf College has suspended 17 students for the fall semester while 50 more are in quarantine after they were potentially exposed to COVID-19 at a mask-free, off-campus party.
The suspensions were announced by President David Anderson, which comes after the party was held by students last week before they moved into campus housing.
At least one student who was at the party was infected with COVID-19, with several others are believed to have been exposed to that person at the party.
"We have since learned that too many people congregated in the space, masks were not worn, physical distancing was not observed, and the predictable results ensued," Anderson said.
"This is the kind of reckless behavior that will put an end to our in-person semester, and it must stop.
"At least one of the students who attended the party was infected with COVID-19 and exposed several other students. Others in attendance exposed innocent students, like roommates, who are now having to pay a costly price for others’ poor choices. Seventeen students who participated in this party are now suspended for the fall semester."
Around 3,400 COVID-19 tests have been conducted on students, faculty, and staff returning for fall semester, with only eight positive tests from the just over 3,000 results returned so far.
"The number of positive cases is manageable, but we are deeply concerned about the fact there are also 50 students who have to quarantine because of a lack of physical distancing," Anderson added.
Students attending the private liberal arts college in Northfield will be tested again for COVID-19 in two weeks.
Current state guidelines for COVID-19 limits gatherings to fewer than 25 people.