New Protocols Go Into Action as the Annex Fills up with COVID-19 Positive Students

Dr. Keith Anderson addressed Liberty University’s current COVID-19 numbers during a press conference Sept. 23, emphasizing that the school remain “champions together” during this time.

Dr. Anderson, executive director of Student Health and Wellness Initiatives, spoke after  President Jerry Prevo and Pastor David Nasser answered questions regarding the 2,200 students being sent to a prayer march this Saturday. Anderson acknowledged the importance of students wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines during this time and on the prayer march. 

Anderson announced that the number of COVID-19 cases had fallen from 141 positive cases last week to 128 as of Sept. 23. However, the number of quarantined cases had risen from 1,118 to 1,192. Anderson explained that many students who qualified as direct contacts to those that tested positive were placed under quarantine or self-isolation. He also was optimistic about the numbers trending down. 

Anderson also went over protocol for quarantined students, noting that the Annex has the capacity to hold around 500 COVID-positive students. Students living in dorms that do not have communal bathrooms are able to self-isolate on campus. Anderson said that Liberty also has multiple additional areas to house students that need to quarantine or isolate. 

Leah Ginion was one of the students recently quarantined at the annex. She was alerted when her Community Group Leader tested positive. Despite testing negative, Liberty’s protocol requires students who have been exposed to the virus to quarantine as well.

“It honestly wasn’t really that bad,” Ginion said. “It wasn’t the nicest, but it was good because I had a bunch of friends who were there too, so we’d all just hang outside with our masks. So, it was good that I had people there already and I got a lot of homework done.”

Liberty students in quarantine are being sent to the Annex, but there is little room left in this complex

Along with that protocol, Anderson says a main concern for his office is if the positive cases on campus reach 5% of the population over a two-week period.  In that case, the university would go online for two weeks to allow numbers to fall again. The decision to shut down for the rest of the semester would be a joint decision with the Lynchburg community and local coronavirus trends. 

The executive director also made it clear that his department is working with the Office of Resident Life to ensure each student tested is placed in the safest housing for them and their peers. 

Dr. Anderson explained how Liberty is working with the community to ensure that the university is responding in a proactive manner. He is working with local hospitals, as well as holding weekly meetings with the Virginia Department of Health and local education administrators.  

“We’ve been using the mantra ‘champions together,’” Anderson said. “And in order to stay together, we all have to work together to keep our campus safe.”

Scott Lamb, senior vice president of communications and public engagement, ended the questioning time announcing that a follow-up press conference would be coming within the next two weeks. 

Despite concerns from students, the annex was seen an advantage for Ginion in using her time wisely as she addressed her advice to those in quarantine.

“Take advantage of the time, because it’s like a two-week break, almost,” Ginion said. “I was able to get a week ahead on my homework, and I was able to just spend a lot of time in the Word and with the Lord. You have two weeks of nothing scheduled for you at all, so might as well make the best use of it. I wouldn’t want to do it voluntarily, but it was good that I had it.”

Stephanie Haydon is a News Reporter. Follow her on Twitter at @Steph_Anice.

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