Students will be allowed to return to Liberty University’s campus after school officials confirmed the conservative Christian school based in Lynchburg, Virginia, will reopen this week.
Liberty’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr, defied nationwide calls for mandatory school closures, inviting students to return amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic.
At Liberty residence halls will reopen, and despite most classes moving online, faculty members were directed to report to campus.
“I think we, in a way, are protecting the students by having them on campus together,” Falwell said. Falwell then invoked a since dis-proven theory that young people “don’t have conditions that put them at risk”.
A Liberty University student said she has”mixed” feelings, doesn’t “know what’s true or not” and hopes her school “is making the responsible decision considering that we don’t really have a choice.”
US President Trump has also questioned whether restrictions recommended by health experts to curb the coronavirus outbreak were going too far, citing the outbreak’s growing threat to the US economy.
And despite current health guidelines, Trump has said the country would “be open for business very soon.” Falwell, one of Trump’s most loyal supporters, called the decision to reopen a “responsibility to students” to “enjoy the room and board they’ve already paid for.”
However, some Liberty University faculty, lashed out at Falwell’s decision. Marybeth Davis Baggett, an English professor, said Falwell was putting “the Lynchburg community”, their “health and lives at risk.”
“Liberty is not a bubble where the virus would be contained,” she said, adding she refused to return to campus during the course of the pandemic.
Liberty students will return days after Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, closed all state schools for the rest of the academic year, and directed all non-essential businesses to close.
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