College students in the New River Valley discuss COVID-19 impacts on travel plans

Coronavirus

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR)– In the past, Virginia Tech officials have discouraged students from traveling home, but students say officials are now encouraging them to stay home after Thanksgiving break as classes transition online.

“Fall break, they discouraged from going home. I didn’t go home for fall break, and then for Thanksgiving they make it feel safe because they’re going all online afterwards, so you know if you go home you won’t bring anything back,” said senior Teresa DeVino.

Radford University students will be ending their semester before Thanksgiving break, but Radford students returned to the classroom sooner than most higher learning institutions in the Commonwealth.

Hal Clary, General Manager of popular restaurant BT’s in Radford, says even after being in business for 37 years, they are still feeling the affects of the pandemic. When students go home for break, he fears things will get worse.

“We’re paying the bills, we’re paying the staff, we’re not making money,” he explained.

According to Clary, they are still at 50% capacity, and even busy events do not near last year’s sales numbers.

“Homecoming was this past weekend, it was just a little busier than a normal weekend,” he stated.

Virginia Tech has had more than 1,300 cases of COVID-19 this semester so far. However, students and staff now say they feel secure in traveling home for the holidays. Hokie officials say 400 students will be remaining on campus until the end of the semester while 200 will remain through the holiday break.

“There will be students whose circumstances require special accommodations and we will find ways to accommodate those who truly need them. This is something that happens in COVID times and non-COVID times, so there is a well-oiled process in place to help students who need such accommodations.”

Mark Owczarski
Assistant Vice President for University Relations, Virginia Tech

Radford University officials also spoke about Halloween and the impact potential gatherings could have on cases, reaffirming the university’s stance on gatherings.

“In accordance with guidance from public health officials and due to current gathering limitations, the University is not encouraging and/or organizing any in-person Halloween activities. All students are expected to comply with the 10-person gathering limitation both on-campus and off-campus settings! Several exemption requests have been submitted for Halloween-related activities, but have not been approved.”

Caitlyn Scaggs 
Associate Vice President for University Relations, Radford university

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