Liberty University remains open despite coronavirus pandemic

Rachel Cohen, Editor in Chief

While college students are taking online classes due to the coronavirus outbreak, Alysa Mehl, along with other Liberty University students, had the option to return to campus following her spring break. Liberty is one of the few colleges in the United States to keep its campus open.

Mehl, however, decided to take her classes online at home.

“There aren’t as many cases in Lynchburg [in Virginia] than there are in New Jersey,” said Mehl, a sophomore at Liberty and a 2018 Pascack Valley alum. “Most of my close friends aren’t staying, and I don’t want to stay alone on campus. I didn’t want to get stuck there just in case.”

Liberty President Jerry Falwell said on Fox News that the university would originally open as usual after spring break from March 6 to March 20. After Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam banned gatherings of 100 or more people, Falwell then issued a statement that most classes would be conducted online, but students would have an option to return.

“Our thinking was, ‘Let’s get them back as soon as we can — the ones who want to come back’” Falwell said in the statement.

Although Falwell’s decision sparked nationwide criticism, Mehl said it was a “good idea” since it allows international students to live somewhere. 

“I have one friend who’s from the Philippines and he can’t go home, so he is able to stay on campus,” Mehl said. “I have a couple of friends who are staying because it’s easier for them to work there than at home.”

Mehl began virtual learning on Monday, March 23, for the rest of the semester, and said her classes have been group calls with her professors.

“We have one of the largest online programs, so transitioning from residential to online wasn’t as big of a deal,” Mehl said. “It’s nice that I can hear from my professors.”