ANDOVER (CBS) – An entire residence hall at Merrimack College was under quarantine after students who live there tested positive for coronavirus.

College officials made the decision to quarantine residents of Monican Hall after five positive tests were identified Tuesday morning. An additional 11 residents tested positive later in the day.

“These 16 positive cases identified today follow a single positive case in Monican identified last week, totaling 17 cases in the last seven days,” the college said in a letter to the campus Tuesday night.

The hundreds of students who lived there are either back home or in quarantine elsewhere on campus. The college says it launched an aggressive contact tracing program.

“It’s a bummer. It’s a bummer for the freshmen because they don’t really get to experience Merrimack for what it really is,” said senior Brendan Hofferty.

In a letter to the school community, Merrimack College administration wrote, “We have made the decision to temporarily quarantine all residents of Monican Hall until we have a better understanding of the potential number of students affected… [students should] enact their predetermined departure plans.”

Students still on campus say all morning, parents drove to the dorm to pick up their kids. The students from Monican Hall will stay home pending Covid-19 test results and until the school decides to bring them back.

“I’m hopeful they’ll be able to come back. I think it’s just a precaution right now,” Hofferty said.

Upperclassmen say this is just a hiccup in an otherwise smooth semester so far.

“The school’s been doing an amazing job here,” said sophomore Wes Petrone. “So I don’t think anyone in the town or anything has anything to really worry about.

The campus remains open and classes are running on schedule.

“We prepared for this, and we will do everything possible to stop the spread and minimize any impact,” the college said. “We do expect more positives as a result of our aggressive testing of Monican students and will follow our protocols if that happens.”

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