An American Christian University is re-opening its doors this week, defying nationwide calls for schools to close in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Liberty University based in Lynchburg, Virginia will allow up to 5,000 students to return to campus and halls of residence despite orders by Virginia governor Ralph Northam for all schools in the state to close through to the end of the academic year.
An email to students explained that all upcoming international trips have been cancelled but students should return to campus this week, following Spring Break.
School officials stated that classes would be in session and "Liberty University is open and operating normally."
Although the majority of lessons will be conducted online, Liberty staff have been instructed to "report to work as normal".
Liberty University has some 100,000 pupils who study online, with a further 15,000 who attend campus in Virginia.
Speaking in an interview to Fox News, University President Jerry Falwell Jr, said on-site pupils had requested for classes remain open.
"Many of them have asked us, 'please do not cancel classes, don't send us home to do online; we love it here, we want to stay'."
As a measure to help protect pupils from Covid-19, the school has banned any events that involve large crowds.
"We have talked to numerous medical professionals before we made this decision," Falwell said.
One Liberty University student reportedly had "mixed feelings" about the decision, saying she hopes the school "is making the responsible decision."
"If it was that deadly or that big of a deal they'd have to shut down right?" she posted on social media.
It comes after President Donald Trump questioned whether public health measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country were too strict. Large parts of the economy have been temporarily closed while the public is being ordered to self-isolate. Health officials have stated that relaxing them could put more people at risk.
Trump has said his administration would reassess the measures next week, arguing that "our country wasn't built to be shut down," as he spoke at the White House on Monday.