During a time where many schools and universities have been shut down due to the coronavirus, there is one school that has reopened its doors and welcomed its students back following spring break.
According to CNN, a spokesperson for the university confirmed that about 1,900 students returned to the private evangelical Christian university, in Lynchburg, Virginia.
In the university’s official statement, it said that Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of the university, and other leaders from the school discussed the option of extending the students spring break, or “risk students having a longer time to become exposed to the virus.” In the end, they decided it would be safer for students to return to the campus.
The statement continued, “During Spring Break, Falwell and his executive leadership team began meeting every afternoon to determine the measures that needed to be taken for all programs to go online and for students to be able to return to their dorms and use the campus dining services that they paid for.”
Treney Tweedy, the mayor of Lynchburg, said in a statement on Tuesday, “I was very surprised and disappointed to later learn of President Falwell’s most recent decision to allow students back on campus. We are in the midst of a public health crisis. 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.”
Liberty University spokesperson, Scott Lamb said the university gave the students the option on whether they wanted to return to by filling out an online form. Of the school’s 14,000 to 15,000 population, 1,900 students have returned to campus as of Tuesday afternoon.
According to NBC News, at least one professor has publicly criticized Falwell for his decision. In an op-ed, the professor expressed “Falwell’s lack of concern” about the pandemic putting faculty, staff, and others in the city of Lynchburg at risk.
This is also reportedly an online petition encouraging Falwell’s removal following his decision.