Effective Monday, the entire Liberty University campus is under a temporary quarantine due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The private evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Va., founded by Jerry Falwell Sr. and until recently run by his scandal-plagued son, reported 159 active coronavirus cases among students and staff as of Saturday, surpassing the previous high of 141 cases last fall, NBC News reports. The fall semester started last week, and initially the school had no building capacity restrictions, distancing, or masking requirements. Now, classes have been switched to virtual, campus dining has been switched to takeout-only, and large indoor gatherings have been prohibited until September 10, when the quarantine is scheduled to end. The university does not have a vaccine requirement. Nearly 1,200 have signed an online petition calling for an end to the lockdown, with commenters pointing out the university had promised "no restrictions."
But others wished the school had taken more precautions. "To me, it's just been a very unsafe environment," one student tells Yahoo Finance, describing thousands of students from all over the country gathering in close quarters without masks: "You're on the bus with 50 other people packed together, you're in the cafeteria with hundreds of other people, you're passing in the hallways." Others express similar frustration to WSLS: "If we had just taken some really simple steps, we could’ve avoided this whole issue," says one. The school has an annex it uses for quarantining students, and it reached maximum capacity over the weekend, with 204 students staying there, WSET reports. Until additional accommodations are determined, students who test positive and have a bathroom connected to their dorm room are being asked to shelter in place along with their roommates, since they've already been exposed. (Read more Liberty University stories.)