With the COVID-19 pandemic creating hysteria and problems around the world, it came as no surprise to many that universities such as Virginia Tech would have to take action at some point to reassure public concerns. Fearing that bringing thousands of students back to campus would pose a potential health risk, university officials made the decision to close a large portion of campus, intending to minimize students from being around each other in high concentrations.
Despite the large number of students who will not be returning to campus, officials made the decision to keep campus open for the remainder of the spring semester, but with restrictions put in place to adhere to advice and regulations put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Virginia State Health Commissioner.
On Tuesday, March 17, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver announced an order that bans the gathering of over 10 people in fitness centers, restaurants and theaters until further notice. Gov. Ralph Northam then issued a stay-at-home order for all Virginians effective from March 30 to June 10, unless rescinded sooner.
In conjunction with this, the McComas athletic facilities will be closed for the remainder of the semester. Additionally, for the dining halls that will remain open to students (Owen’s Food Court and Au Bon Pain), orders must be placed through the Grubhub app, with takeout or delivery being the only two options available when purchasing.
“The dining was a big thing for me,” said Elsabeth Tefera, a freshman at Virginia Tech studying economics. “I was kind of on the fence, until they released that only Owens and ABP would be open, and I couldn’t roll over my dining plan if I'd stayed.”
While restaurants and other eateries outside of campus are impacted by the ban of gatherings of 10 or more, the order encouraged all businesses that serve food to offer takeout and delivery options that would allow customers to still purchase from them. Local favorites such as Cabo Fish Taco, PK’s Bar & Grill,Italiano’s and others are available for delivery to those in the Blacksburg area.
In addition to the restaurants and dining halls impacted by this pandemic, many of Virginia Tech’s buildings that in normal times would be frequented by students on a near daily basis are either closed or predominantly vacant. Torgersen Hall and Moss Arts Center are some of the many buildings across campus that have been closed until further notice by the university, while areas such as the Drillfield and Upper Quad appear as ghost towns.
While many facilities around campus are closed, there are a number of buildings open on normal or modified hours to the general public. Newman Library is now closed. Squires Student Center is open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. However the Ticket Office, Breakzone, Perspective Gallery, and US Passport Facility are closed. For those who have mail to pick up, the Residential Mail Services building is operating on a modified schedule to allow students to pick up their mail. Additionally, Schiffert Health Center, the Cook Counseling Center and Squires Student Center, among others, are still operating on campus.
Even though Virginia Tech’s campus and the surrounding area have limited access for the most part, for those living in the area during these troubling times, the best thing to do is make good use of this state of self-quarantining. Tackle those upcoming assignments head-on, keep in good contact with friends and family and most importantly, stay positive. Hokie Nation will come out of this ordeal stronger than ever, regardless of what comes our way.