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Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. responds to criticism for allowing students back on campus

Lynchburg’s mayor called his decision reckless

LYNCHBURG, Va. – President Jerry Falwell Jr. said any criticism of the university is misplaced and he did not mix words Tuesday when responding to Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy’s statement calling the decision to bring students back, “reckless.”

“I think she’s talking out of both sides of her mouth, but she’s got to be reelected so you can’t blame her," Falwell said.

Falwell said Tweedy’s criticism of his response to the coronavirus contradicts what he was previously told.

Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Jerry Falwell, Jr. (WSLS)

“She and the city manager said they were going to send out a statement thanking us,” said Falwell.

In her statement Tuesday, calling the decision reckless, Tweedy said she has never supported the idea of bringing students back.

Falwell said what Liberty is doing is no different than what other universities are doing, and getting students back on campus is important because it limits their potential exposure to the virus.

“They’re free to go wherever they like, but they’re not allowed to gather in close proximity to each other," said Falwell.

The Virginia Department of Health’s Central Virginia Health District announced on Tuesday that in response to a “citizen concern” regarding the re-opening of Liberty’s campus, the department dispatched two environmental health specialists to perform an unannounced inspection of campus conditions.

Staff visited several open areas and food establishments across campus, including Montview, the buffet at Reber Thomas, the Tilley Student Center, and the Tinney Café. They reported that all operations appeared to be in compliance with Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order.

Falwell also noted that he has heard no complaints from students or parents.

About 2,000 students returned to campus after spring break, a small fraction of the number of students typically there.

What the university will do about refunds for the students who did not return had not been decided Tuesday, but Falwell said the university is weighing all options.