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Virginia, Mar 24 (Canadian-Media): Liberty University, a private evangelical Christian university, in Lynchburg, Virginia, United States, opened its doors to about 1,900 students at a time when countless universities have sent students home, media reports said.
Liberty University. Image credit: Twitter
During discussion held between the Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. and other leaders whether to extend spring break and risk students having a longer time to become exposed to the virus, it was decided it was safer to bring the students back to campus.
Falwell's decision to bring students back to campus was against the guidance provided by state officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to statewide order issued by the Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Monday to help slow down the spread of coronavirus, gatherings of more than 10 people and goes into effect just before midnight on Tuesday.
The order also closes non-essential businesses and shuts down all K-12 schools for the rest of the academic year.
Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy said she was both surprised and disappointed by President Falwell's most recent decision to allow students back on campus and added, "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."
Students had been given a choice by the university whether they wanted to return by filling out an online form with their intent.
Out of the student population of 14,000 to 15,000, about 1,900 students have returned to campus ass of Tuesday afternoon, Liberty University's spokesman Scott Lamb said.
Lamb added that university officials are prepared for about 5,000 students to return to campus.
Although the university said that it was complying with all state restrictions related to COVID-19 following a Virginia Department of Health inspection during its spring break after the state's 10 person limit on restaurants went into effect, however it is unclear if this is the right decision.