(opinions) Masks around campus (copy)

Students around campus are donning masks as they begin to return for the fall semester, Aug. 17, 2020.

Dr. Sands:

I am writing to ask for you to take some more serious measures on campus to help to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 infections at Virginia Tech.

My husband and I (who are both faculty members) walked our dogs partially through campus yesterday (Jan. 27), Sunday afternoon, and we saw at least three dozen students unmasked, spending time together. This was 85 or 90% of all the people we saw on campus.

Six or eight of them were cadets on the ropes course, seemingly with an instructor, doing school-sanctioned training. Not one of them was wearing a mask. None of them were doing aerobic exercise that would make it difficult to wear a mask.

Even those who were jogging by us should have moved away from us, off their side of the sidewalk and/or put a mask on since they were close to us, but they did not.

We were wearing masks the whole time and we always move over away from people when we see them coming. However, there are many people who don’t move over, and many who run up from behind us, do not announce they are coming, and pass within two or three feet of us.

I am not only worried about us getting the virus — I am also worried about housekeepers and dining hall employees, and others working on campus who don’t have the freedom to walk away for their safety. We are taking precautions and wearing masks the whole time. I am worried about students and faculty who are out socializing mask-less.

I know you have asked people to do the right thing, but many people are not doing it. It is not just students — it is faculty and staff as well, and this has remained unchanged for over 10 months.

Clearly, there need to be stronger consequences for this behavior. Why not follow the lead of President Biden and put some very harsh rules in place for 100 days? Why not fine people $100 for not wearing masks or for not social distancing when on campus?

They are not paying attention to the rules, and it will lead to people dying. Maybe not students, but more likely their parents and grandparents will suffer and die.

You can lead the way by setting an example — one based on science and strong citizenship and empathy — that other Virginians can respect and follow.

“Ut Prosim” is taking a beating. If these members of our community cannot be of service to others out of the goodness of their hearts, maybe they will do it out of fear of fines and shaming.

Virginia Tech could lead the way in Virginia. We can do some serious good, paving the way to the solution.

As I am typing this, the number of cases in Montgomery County is 6,188. The number of deaths is 61. My husband has received no less than seven letters from the Dean of Students Office about undergraduates who have lost family members to COVID since the semester began. When will the numbers get high enough for us to do something serious about saving lives?