Eight members of St. Cloud State University's women's hockey program have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past nine days, prompting the team to pause all activities.
In a statement Sunday, the team said it'll pause all team activities for at least the week of Nov. 15, which includes SCSU's season-opening series with Bemidji State, scheduled for Nov. 20-21.
"The decision was made after consultation with Head Athletic Trainer Julie Alexander, Coach Steve Macdonald, SCSU administration, public health guidelines and in coordination with the WCHA and leadership at Bemidji State," SCSU Athletics Director Heather Weems said in a statement. "While we share the disappointment of everyone involved, the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and the opposing team is our top priority."
While eight members of the program tested positive for COVID-19 (it's unclear how many are players), the other student-athletes who meet the criteria of close contacts will quarantine for 14 days, the statement said.
"I share the disappointment being felt by the student-athletes and coaches at both St. Cloud State and Bemidji State," WCHA Women's League Commissioner Jennifer Flowers said in a statement. "The first priority of the WCHA and our member institutions has always been the health and well-being of everyone associated with our seven programs.
"St. Cloud State continues to follow local, state, NCAA and WCHA guidelines regarding COVID-19 testing and tracking and we hope to see them back on the ice soon," Flowers added.
SCSU's next series is scheduled for Nov. 27-28 against Minnesota State at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.
While COVID-19 cases on SCSU's campus have "remained fairly low" this semester, school leaders are asking people to stay vigilant and follow public health protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 amid the "unprecedented increase in cases" in communities across Minnesota, the statement says.
According to SCSU's dashboard, from Nov. 4-Nov. 10 there were 37 reported COVID-19 cases, six among employees and one student is in on-campus designated quarantine and isolation.
Since the start of the fall semester and Nov. 11, there have been 208 cases among students at the university and 31 cases among SCSU employees.
In the entire Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, 2,424 students and 296 employees have tested positive since the start of the fall term, the system's dashboard shows.