Liberty University announced a campus-wide quarantine on Thursday due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The evangelical Christian school’s office of communications said the “temporary mitigation period” would occur between Monday and Sept. 10, with all residential classes moved online and large indoor gatherings suspended.
There are 159 known active cases of the coronavirus at Liberty, according to the Lynchburg, Va., college’s COVID-19 tracker, the highest number since last September when 141 individuals tested positive for the virus.
Out of the 159 known cases, 124 are among students.
“We are taking the necessary steps and actions to lighten the burden to our medical service providers, the local hospital resources, and to do our part to keep our community safe,” said Keith Anderson, executive director of Liberty’s student health center and wellness initiatives.
“We understand the severity of the pandemic and desire to act swiftly to ensure the health and safety of our campus. Through collective collaboration with our on-campus partners, Central Virginia Family Physicians (CVFP), and our Liberty University Health & Wellness professionals, we are attending to our asymptomatic and symptomatic campus members as quickly and thoroughly as possible,” Anderson said.
Outdoor events, including the football season’s opening game on Sept. 4, are set to go on as planned.
Masks and social distancing are encouraged on campus, but not required for either students or faculty. Free vaccins clinics will also be coming to the school, although the vaccine is also not required.
Other measures taken to combat the virus include letting professors continue remote instruction and adding more outdoor space and takeout options for the dining hall.
There are 15,000 students and 5,000 faculty members currently on campus.
Liberty took criticism last year when it welcomed back students on campus following spring break, when most other schools had already canceled the rest of the in-person school year over the rising pandemic.