Lynchburg, Va. based Liberty University rebels against the government that has ordered universities and non-essential businesses closed due to the CoronaVirus (COVID-19) outbreak citing:
According to USA Today,
Most of them won’t attend classes in person, but thousands of Liberty University students will return to the evangelical Virginia campus as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Liberty’s move is remarkable as the coronavirus spreads across the United States, with more than 51,000 cases and 674 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon. Hundreds of universities have closed their campuses and asked students to leave crowded dorms. Some have allowed students who can’t move back home – international studentsor those without secure housing – but most campuses are becoming emptier, not fuller.
A request for comment to the university was not immediately returned on Tuesday.
The move to have students return earned a rebuke from Treney Tweedy, the mayor of Lynchburg, where Liberty is located. She said was “surprised and disappointed.”
“I am concerned for the students, faculty and employees at Liberty University, and I am also very concerned for the residents of the Lynchburg community,” Tweedy said. “Liberty University is an important part of this community; however, I believe it was a reckless decision to bring students back on campus at this time.”
And Marybeth Davis Baggett, an English professor at the university, wrote a column in Religion News Services imploring the university’s board to overturn Falwell’s decisionand to shut the campus down.
“Many students, faculty and staff have health conditions that would make COVID-19 difficult to fight,” she wrote. “Liberty is not a bubble where the virus would be contained. Instead, its population comes into regular contact with those in the Lynchburg community, putting their health and lives at risk as well.”
Falwell has earned a reputation as an outspoken defender of Trump. Earlier this month, he said on “Fox and Friends” that many people were “overreacting” to the coronavirus. The fervor was an attempt to undermine the president, he said.
In his statement announcing the university would remain open, Falwell said other colleges that have cut back services had gone too far.
“While some colleges basically threw their hands up and just shut down and left the problem for somebody else to deal with, Liberty’s executive staff rolled their sleeves up,” he said.