Home Coronavirus Coverage As Liberty University Reports First Covid-19 Case, Students and Parents Grapple With Conflicting Information – The Chronicle of Higher Education

As Liberty University Reports First Covid-19 Case, Students and Parents Grapple With Conflicting Information – The Chronicle of Higher Education

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Calum Best spends most of his day at Liberty University inside his dorm room, taking breaks from his accounting and finance studies to spritz with Clorox and scrub with hand sanitizer. Looking out his window on Monday, he reported seeing four clusters of students, “some practicing social distancing, some not.”

The senior, one of hundreds of students remaining this week at the evangelical university in Lynchburg, Va., said Liberty’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., hadn’t done enough to impress upon students the seriousness of the pandemic. And while Best is staying on campus to avoid potentially exposing his parents to the virus, he believes too many students are sticking around because the university has overstated its ability to keep them safe.

On Monday, as Virginia’s governor issued a statewide stay-at-home order through June 10 and Liberty reported its first positive test for Covid-19, students and parents were responding with varying degrees of confusion and concern to the mixed messages they say they’ve been receiving from the university, the news media, and local governments.

While other Virginia campuses were urging students to remain home after spring break, Liberty officials invited them to return — a decision Lynchburg’s mayor described as “reckless” — and the state’s governor urged Falwell to reconsider.

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