Blacksburg COVID-19

Scene from downtown Blacksburg during the COVID-19 outbreak, April 8, 2020.

Dean of Students Byron Hughes confirmed that seven Virginia Tech students have been placed on interim suspension for events that put the public’s health at risk during the pandemic.

Hughes did not specify when the actions occurred nor the students’ actions that warranted suspension.

“Virginia Tech remains steadfast in its commitment to expect all members of our community to follow all public health guidelines issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hughes said in an email to WVIR-TV in Charlottesville. “Each and every one of us must do our part. In its simplest terms, it means always wear a mask. It means keep your physical distance to others and do not gather in large groups. These are not only life-saving ideas, they are current behavioral requirements all students are required to follow.”

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Notre Dame made national headlines when both universities moved instruction online after spikes in coronavirus cases occurred on campus.

Since Aug. 21, more than 600 UNC and 400 ND students and faculty have received positive coronavirus tests.

As positive coronavirus cases are continuously reported at colleges, the Virginia Tech leadership have asked students particularly to keep themselves and others safe.

“We love our university. We love our Town of Blacksburg and the entire New River Valley,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Frank Shushok Jr. in a July letter to students. “As we prepare for the fall, we must be unrelenting and uncompromising in our commitment to public health. ‘We’ means all of us — every single person who joins us in Blacksburg and on campus. We will succeed together — or we will fail together.”

Shushok also stressed the importance of face coverings, social distancing and reducing large gatherings as means to support collective health. Effective Aug. 12, Blacksburg Ordinance 1942 states that failure to obey face covering laws are punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor and failure to obey limitations on mass gatherings are punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.

According to the Virginia Tech COVID-19 dashboard last updated Aug. 16, five coronavirus tests have returned positive from 3,663 students and employees. Meanwhile, Montgomery County has 362 total positive cases, last updated Aug. 23.

“Our biggest risks are likely to result from behaviors that individuals can control, such as off-campus gatherings and travel to and from hot spots,” said President Tim Sands in an Aug. 9 letter to the Virginia Tech community. “We will move to remote operation if public health considerations dictate.”

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