WINONA — Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is moving to an online-only format for the two weeks prior to its Thanksgiving break because of a significant increase in COVID-19 cases on campus.

The university has closed the Winona campus to outside visitors, asked students to remain in their rooms as much as possible, and is instituting a 9 p.m. curfew. All this begins today.

“Our primary concern is not only to keep our students safe, but also to ensure they are healthy as they return home to their families," said Tim Gossen, vice president of student affairs. Students are expected to stay on campus and not return home earlier than the regularly scheduled Thanksgiving break.

Saint Mary’s had reported 53 positive COVID-19 cases since the start of the semester. But 14 new cases have been recorded so far the week this week alone.

In June, Saint Mary’s decided to end in-person classes at Thanksgiving break, with students completing their courses online from home. This would have limited the spread of COVID-19 during finals, which coincides with the traditional start of the flu season.