COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Atchison County forcing college students to quarantine

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ATCHISON, Kan. — All students at Benedictine College will be quarantined in their rooms for the next 14 days under a public health order that begins at midnight on Friday, September 4.

The President of the college says he vehemently objects to what he calls a draconian mandate to require all students to remain in their rooms or off-campus homes for the next two weeks.

The school says there are 39 positive COVID-19 cases and 132 students are in quarantine.

Some students are isolating in their rooms on campus, at a local motel, or have been sent home.

The Atchison County health officer says there have been 142 confirmed cases directly related to Benedictine College and student gatherings.

County officials say they don’t take the action lightly. They also add the college’s efforts to stop the spread have not been working, and the virus is now circulating throughout the community.

“I think the order is very, very overreaching,” Stephen Minnis, President of Benedictine College, said.

“I don’t think this order allows us to do the things that we have promised to do. We strengthened our mitigation program on Saturday. We should be allowed to see if those mitigation plans work or not. We won’t know that until later this week or early next week. The order is very broad. Damaging. It’s damaging to the city,” added Minnis.

Before students arrived on campus two weeks ago, Atchison County only had four cases; there are now more than 200 cases.

The Catholic college has more than 1,500 students, with a near record enrollment this year.

The quarantine for all students, whether on-campus or off-campus, starts at midnight on Friday.

Emergency Management Director Wes Lanter says quarantine signs are expected to be posted on residence halls Thursday afternoon.

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