LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)-- In-person classes at Liberty University will go on, even after most schools across the country are moving online due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. Now, residents and students are making their voices heard.
"I'm from the area and I have a lot of family that have cancer or lung problems in general," Alexis Valle, a freshman at Liberty University, said.
She thinks it's a bad idea for in-person classes to resume after spring break with the coronavirus continuing to spread.
"I don't want to risk taking it home and spreading it to my family because with the cancer they have, that could potentially really hurt them and potentially even result in death," she explained.
That's why she signed a petition that asks Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. for an extended break and a switch to online classes.
Valle commented on the petition: "This is a serious issue and Jerry needs to treat it as such."
"It's a little annoying for the fact we're still open when all the other colleges have closed, and even high school, like K-12 have closed, and Jerry is still not closing it," she said.
Valle is one of thousands who have signed the petition that a Liberty student started. The petition's creator spoke to WDBJ7 off-camera and wanted to stay anonymous.
But she said in a statement, "At 21, I have spent much of the past two years in and out of hospitals and doctors' offices being treated for advanced thyroid cancer. Through those experiences, I have met many people that have compromised immune systems and other health conditions ... I decided to make a petition, hoping that maybe if the students banded together we could express that this is way more than a political issue. Shortly after Jerry announced his plan, President Trump declared a national emergency. Myself, and 3,700+ other students and families are hoping that Jerry Falwell will come to his senses and make the decision to switch classes to an online platform to slow the spread of the virus and help protect those that are more vulnerable."
In an earlier interview with Fox News, Falwell said he thinks the coronavirus is over-hyped. He also described a conspiracy theory that the virus was manufactured by North Korea that he said he heard from a restaurant worker.
But students like Valle hope this petition will change his perspective. "If we can at least show him how we feel, then you know, maybe he'll change his mind, and decide this is a lot worse than what he's making it out to be," Valle said.
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