BREAKING NEWS: Liberty University moving most classes online to combat coronavirus, campus to remain open
After originally deciding to resume classes as normal following spring break, President Falwell announced Monday afternoon that most Liberty University residential classes will transition to online status beginning Monday, March 23, in response to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
Liberty was one of the last universities to announce its partial closure in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. While a social media petition receiving thousands of signatures asked Falwell to move classes online, the decision to make the transition came in response to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement of the emergency ban on public gatherings of over 100 people.
Most classes will complete the spring semester online, with the exception of programs like aviation, osteopathic medicine, nursing and certain labs, according to Liberty News.
Campus residence halls and dining facilities will remain open and staffed since some students are unable to return home, but the way meals are picked up will be modified, Falwell said per Liberty News. Students have the option to return to campus and are instructed to stay in contact with their professors and deans for more instruction regarding online classes.
All Liberty-sponsored study abroad and international trips for the spring and summer semesters had already been canceled. A decision has not yet been made about the May 9 commencement ceremonies.
The meetings of student clubs, intramural sports teams and NCAA spring sports have also been canceled. Club sports teams, as well as student clubs, will be decided based on the case due to the limited number of students on campus. Falwell said the university will continue to assess the situation as the university moves forward.
“Please keep the elderly and the others at high risk with this virus in your prayers. Liberty is taking into account the sometimes conflicting orders and guidance of government officials and public health experts regarding higher education and our unique population. As this dynamic situation changes again, the university will continue to reassess” Falwell said, according to Liberty News.
President Trump declared a national state of emergency on Friday, March 13 and announced $50 billion in federal aid, due to the outbreak’s impact on the economy.
Trump urged states to set up emergency operation centers and hospital preparedness plans. He also announced his administration’s efforts to set up drive-thru test sites, according to The Hill. Trump asked Americans to join in a National Day of Prayer on Sunday, March 15.
On Monday, Trump advised Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, as well as going to restaurants or food courts, citing “an invisible enemy,” according to Politico.
“Our overriding goal is to stop the spread of the virus. This will pass … and we’ll be even stronger for it,” Trump said per The Hill.
Updates to Liberty University’s response to the outbreak will continue to be posted on the university’s website.
Wood is the editor-in-chief. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyRWood17