LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — After nearly two weeks of virtual learning and no large indoor gatherings amid a campus-wide quarantine, Liberty University students returned to in-person learning on Monday.
From Monday, Aug. 30 through Friday, Sept. 10, the university implemented mitigation protocols in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus and maintain a safe and health campus environment.
Even with a campus-wide quarantine, though, positive case numbers are still high while quarantine numbers are even higher.
According to the university’s coronavirus dashboard — which was last updated on Wednesday, Sept. 8 — there are 399 active student COVID-19 cases and 64 active faculty/staff cases. In addition, 1,278 on-campus students; 402 commuters; and 154 employees from Liberty University are reportedly in quarantine as of Wednesday.
However, on Friday, Liberty University officials announced they would end the temporary mitigation period and prioritize “both health and freedom” by keeping some health and safety policies in place until further notice. The highlights of those policies are listed below:
- All classes will resume in-person instruction on Monday, Sept. 13 with a digital instruction component.
- Masks and physical distancing are strongly encouraged — especially where signage is posted and when visiting local churches and businesses — but not required.
- Indoor sports, events, and activities will be limited to 50 percent space capacity.
- Convocation and Campus Community will take place in Williams Stadium until further notice.
- Digital attendance options are provided wherever possible when attendance is mandatory.
- Vaccinations are encouraged, so clinics will be available for students, faculty, and staff.
Liberty University also updated the pandemic policies for academics, athletics, indoor venues and competitions for club sports, campus logistics, campus recreation, dining, the Office of Spiritual Development, and student affairs, which are available on the university’s coronavirus page.
While some students told WFXR News they are glad to return to in-person instruction at Liberty University, others believe the quarantine period should have been longer.
“I felt fine going to classes,” junior Zoe Martin said on Monday. “I wasn’t scared of getting COVID. I am vaccinated.”
“I think they are doing a pretty good job,” said senior Kyerra Kuntz. “I’ve seen a lot more hand sanitizer, those little stickers, you know, ‘six feet away.'”
Kuntz says she noticed the university limiting more indoor spaces to help slow the spread of the virus. School officials are also strongly encouraging face coverings for students.
“Having masks would definitely make me feel more at peace,” Kuntz said.
“There’s not really a whole lot a college can do, considering we’re all adults and they have to trust us to make the right decisions for ourselves,” said sophomore Mason Barth.
Meanwhile, a sophomore named Audrey Moor — who has already had the coronavirus before — says she doesn’t think going back to class right now is a good idea.
“I’m still not sure if I’m going to attend in-person yet just because of the rush of everybody going back at the same time,” Moor said.
Liberty University is one of just a few higher learning institutes in the Commonwealth that hasn’t mandated coronavirus vaccinations or indoor masking.