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college and the coronavirus

Jerry Falwell Jr. is inviting some students back to Liberty University amid pandemic, argues he’s 'protecting' them

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is no stranger to controversy. So it's not a total surprise that he's bucking the trend set by most other universities and inviting students back to campus amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Falwell told The Richmond Times-Dispatch that somewhere between several hundred and 5,000 students — a small percentage of the university's total enrollment — will live in dorms, where they will continue their online classes. Professors are expected to report to campus despite the remote coursework.

"I think we have a responsibility to our students — who paid to be here, who want to be here, who love it here — to give them the ability to be with their friends, to continue their studies, enjoy the room and board they've already paid for and to not interrupt their college life," Falwell said.

Falwell also said he believes the decision is "protecting" the students, most of whom do not fall into any at-risk categories, whether that be age or underlying conditions, and if any students do fall ill with COVID-19, the school has identified a nearby hotel to house them while they recover. But at least one faculty member, Marybeth Davis Baggett, has pushed back against the decision. Baggett called the decision a "recipe for disaster," pointing out that the campus population comes into regular contact with residents of Lynchburg, Virginia. Read more at The Richmond Times-Dispatch.