Virginia Mayor Calls Liberty University ‘Reckless’ For Letting Students Back To Campus

Tons of of scholars have traveled again to Liberty College, which refused to close down for the coronavirus pandemic, sparking public well being issues amongst native officers in Virginia.

Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy denounced the evangelical Christian college’s resolution to permit college students again on campus after spring break, calling it “reckless.” 

“We’re within the midst of a public well being disaster,” Tweedy stated Tuesday. “I’m involved for the scholars, school and workers at Liberty College, and I’m additionally very involved for the residents of the Lynchburg neighborhood.”

Ethan Miller through Getty Pictures

Jerry Falwell Jr. is the president of Liberty College, an evangelical Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Falwell, a detailed evangelical Christian ally of President Donald Trump, has been downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak and spreading conspiracy theories about its origins. 

Whereas neighboring universities have had most college students transfer out of residence halls, Falwell has been adamant about holding the campus open for college kids who need to come again and take on-line programs from their dorms. 

Falwell initially pledged to maintain the campus open and working as common for its 15,000 residential college students. Final week, he stated he was compelled to maneuver most lessons on-line due to Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s ban on gatherings of greater than 100 individuals. (That coverage was up to date on Monday to ban gatherings of greater than 10 individuals.) 

Courses resumed this week. As of Tuesday, Liberty College had about 1,900 college students again on campus, a college spokesperson instructed Lynchburg’s Information and Advance.

The college has taken a number of steps to curb massive gatherings, restrict class sizes, limit worldwide journey, and ensure college students aren’t congregating in locations like eating halls. It has additionally been ramping up cleansing and arrange a constructing to quarantine college students who present signs of COVID-19, the sickness ensuing from the brand new coronavirus. 

The Virginia Division of Well being visited the campus and didn’t observe any violations of the state’s restrictions on sure companies and organizations, ABC-affiliate WSET reported on Tuesday.

Nonetheless, Liberty College is basically open to any college students who need to come again and take lessons from their dorms. College and workers have been ordered to “report back to work as regular.” Those that are involved about COVID-19 have to make use of their earned trip or sick days to take break day.

Falwell himself has apparently been strolling via campus to talk to college students. 

“They have been speaking about being glad to be again. I used to be joking about how they stunning a lot had the entire place to themselves and instructed all of them to take pleasure in it,” he instructed ABC-13.

Some Liberty College college students reported that social distancing measures the varsity has tried to enact aren’t being strictly adopted on campus. 

Liberty College professor Marybeth Davis Baggett criticized Falwell on Sunday for flouting the risks of the virus and endangering the Lynchburg neighborhood. She stated she’s been in contact with college workers who’re distressed concerning the faculty’s method to the virus however are afraid that talking up would put their careers in danger. 

“Many college students, school and workers have well being situations that might make COVID-19 troublesome to struggle. And naturally, Liberty isn’t a bubble the place the virus could be contained. As an alternative, its inhabitants comes into common contact with these within the Lynchburg neighborhood, placing their well being and lives in danger as nicely,” Baggett wrote in an op-ed for Faith Information Service.

Lynchburg doesn’t have any confirmed circumstances of COVID-19, The Related Press studies. There are almost 300 confirmed circumstances in Virginia and there have been seven deaths, in line with the state well being division.

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