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Illinois university quarantines entire student body due to coronavirus outbreak

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Peoria, Illinois — Bradley University in central Illinois is requiring its entire student body to quarantine for two weeks because of clusters of COVID-19 on campus and is reverting to remote learning, officials announced Tuesday.

Officials of the private university said they have linked a spike of the coronavirus to off-campus gatherings. The Peoria university is requiring students to limit nonessential interactions, stay in their off-campus apartments, residence halls or Greek houses and take classes remotely. It took effect Tuesday.

In announcing the measure, the university said it has tallied about 50 COVID-19 cases so far, adding emergency measures are needed to respond to the outbreak without disrupting academic progress.

"Although it may seem extreme, this move to temporary remote learning and a two-week, all-student quarantine allows us to focus on the continuity of the educational experience for all of our students while giving us time to gather data on the full extent of the spread of the virus and assess the best way to proceed as a community," Bradley President Stephen Standifird said in a message to students.

Bradley President Stephen Standifird in online address to students on September 7, 2020. WMBD-TV

"We would not engage in the two-week quarantine if I did not believe it was possible for us to complete the semester on campus successfully, but this only happens if we collectively change our behaviors moving forward," he said, according to CBS Peoria affiliate WMBD-TV.

The station says Standifird added, "If we do not see progress during these two weeks, it will impact the rest of the semester, potentially causing us to go remote for the rest of the calendar year. We will continue to provide updates and will make decisions about the resumption of face-to-face classes by Monday, Sept. 21."

Most of those who tested positive are asymptomatic carriers and others have experienced mild symptoms, Standifird said. More than 500 students were in quarantine as of Tuesday morning.

While about 4,600 undergraduates were enrolled at Bradley last year, it wasn't immediately known how many are enrolled this fall.

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