Blacksburg COVID-19 Response

A Virginia Tech student in the process of moving out of their dorm after Virginia Tech moves to online-only classes in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, March 18, 2020.

Around the last week of October, students living in on-campus housing received an email that provided details about the potential cancellation of their spring contract. The opportunity to cancel is not new or specific to the pandemic; however, the spread of COVID-19 and the shortened fall semester have left many students questioning their best course of action for the spring.

The “pod” system introduced before move-in began in the fall is expected to continue throughout the spring, along with the continuation of mask-wearing and social distancing. However, with a cancelled spring break and the looming anticipation of another mostly virtual semester, the decision was easy for some students.

“COVID played a role in my decision, but not a huge one – my family is moving houses, so staying at home would give them a big help,” said freshman biology major Katherine Ngo. “If I had to miss a semester, spring 2021 would be the one. Also, if VT didn’t offer the spring cancellation without penalty, then I wouldn’t have cancelled.”

Despite her contract cancellation, Ngo plans to take classes from home this spring and return to live off-campus for the fall 2021 semester.

In contrast, freshman human development major Ryan Carson made the decision to cancel her contract and leave Virginia Tech altogether. With plans to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University and pursue fashion merchandising in the spring, it was inevitable that her contract had to be cancelled.

“I think Virginia Tech has done an excellent job at handling COVID-19 the best they can,” Carson said. “However, as we are in the midst of a pandemic, being on campus has caused me a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, and I know many students feel similar to how I do. ”

Regardless of the uneasiness of some students, others are still eager to return to Virginia Tech in January. Despite her roommate planning to work remotely in the spring, freshman human nutrition, foods and exercise major Hannah Weisel had no hesitation in renewing her contract for the upcoming semester.

“I chose to stay because I love it here regardless of it being different due to COVID,” Weisel said. “Even though I’m upset to see my roommate leave, I want to stay with my new friends and try my best to have the college experience I’ve always pictured.”

The fall semester was a new experience for college students and staff across the world, as it was the first full semester that took place with consideration to the seriousness of COVID-19.

“I’m really hopeful for the spring semester,” Weisel said. “I think, as a university, we learned a lot about COVID-19 this fall, so I’m very eager to see how everyone will use this learning experience to their advantage.”