March 16, 2020 : By Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Lynchburg, VA (March 16, 2020) – Liberty University announced that in light of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s emergency ban on public gatherings of 100 people, it will transition most of its residential classes to an online digital format starting Monday, March 23.
University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., said, “We originally believed it was safest to return our students following their spring break instead of having them return following greater exposure opportunities from leaving them in different parts of the country for longer periods. But, the Governor’s recent decision to limit certain gatherings has left us no practical choice because we have so many classes of more than 100 students. We want to provide for the continuity of our students’ education while doing what makes sense to help slow the spread of the coronavirus to our university family and local community.”
If residential students choose to return to Lynchburg, most will be able to resume their classes in the online format or they can choose to remain where they are and complete their classes online. Most classes will be able to finish out the spring term in an online format. Certain programs, such as aviation, osteopathic medicine and nursing, and certain types of performance classes, like labs, will not be able to be offered online, however. Students in those programs and classes will only be able to take them in person but no classes will involve gatherings of more than 100 people.
Students negatively impacted by these new policies or the spread of the coronavirus can seek incompletes as academic accommodations and may use the university’s standard processes to seek other accommodations based on pregnancy, other medical conditions and disabilities.
“Many of our international students are simply unable to return to their home countries and other students don’t have a place to go, so we must keep our campus residence halls and dining services staffed anyway,” Falwell said, “although we will be modifying the way meals are picked up and consumed.”
Because of the limited number of students on campus, meetings of student clubs and intramural contests are cancelled. Practices for NCAA and club sports teams will be decided sport-by-sport.
Liberty University is a national leader in online learning, having paved the way since the mid-1970’s. Liberty offers state-of-the-art digital resources that allow students to connect with their classmates, as well as access the best in academic resources, including a vast digital library.
The transition of residential courses to online format will be staggered and will begin Monday, March 23, the day after spring break. Students will be getting communications from deans and professors over the next week with details about their classes, including any clinical, experiential, performance-based, or studio learning that may require alternative arrangements. Students should closely monitor their Liberty email and Blackboard for these important messages.
University will not hold events with more than 100 people as long as Governor Northam’s ban is in effect. Some will be rescheduled and others will be cancelled. College for a Weekend on April 2-5 is cancelled but tours and smaller scale interactions will be made available. No decision has been made yet about commencement currently scheduled for May 9.
The coronavirus outbreak worldwide has created great uncertainty. “Please keep the elderly and the others at high risk with this virus in your prayers,” Falwell said. “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.” Updates and current information will be found on the university’s website.