Liberty University to transition classes online despite initially holding off

Transition starts Monday, March 23

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Liberty University is joining numerous other local colleges and universities by transitioning its on-campus classes to an online format amid concerns about the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

Although Liberty University President Jerry Falwall Jr., initially speculated that the virus could have “political motivation” or be “over-hyped,” on Monday, he said in a statement that Gov. Northam’s limit on the size of certain gatherings prompted this recent change.

Until Monday’s announcement, Liberty planned to have on-campus classes resume on March 23, the day after spring break.

“We originally believed it was safest to return our student’s 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," Falwell said in a statement.

After Liberty’s decision to transition to online classes, Lynchburg mayor Treney Tweedy said in a statement, "...I was very pleased when University President Falwell called to let us know he had decided not to bring the students back after spring break. We are grateful for the leadership of all of our colleges and universities during this challenging time.”

A group of students created a petition in response to university leaders’ initial decision to have on-campus classes resume. The petition was marked a “victory” on Monday and had more than 11,600 signatures.

School leaders say they haven’t made a decision yet regarding the university’s commencement planned for May 9.

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