BLACKSBURG, Va. – Most Virginia Tech students are far away from Blacksburg because of COVID-19 concerns, but the ones still on campus are getting used to mandatory social distancing.
Wednesday morning, Virginia Tech Police Chief Mac Babb and Blacksburg Police Chief Anthony Wilson discussed what their departments have seen in the wake of Gov. Ralph Northam’s order banning crowds of more than ten people. Both chiefs said they have received numerous calls from people concerned about large groups, but most of the situations were not in violation of the order.
“The students have been very respectful, and I think they realize at this point how serious this is," Babb said.
Virginia Tech junior Xavier Friel still lives in Blacksburg. He said his off-campus apartment building, which once had 30 residents, is down to just five. He said the attitude on campus toward COVID-19 completely changed in the past month.
“Before spring break, it was kind of a joke around here,” Friel said. “However, when I first came back from spring break and walked into Squires (Student Center), I was scared because it felt like it was quarantined. It was weird. I’ve never seen that place without more than 100 people in it.”
Babb and Wilson both say they have seen a similar cautious attitude in the people they come across.
“The thing we find with the majority of our younger population is when we do interact with them, they use the time to ask a lot of questions," Wilson said. "We’re seeing tremendously responsible behavior.”
Wilson added that he’s optimistic Virginia Tech students have the fortitude to get through this situation.
“This is the easiest, lifesaving community service that anyone will ever do, and we all need to do this together,” Wilson said. “While these are scary times, it’s no scarier than some of the stuff we’ve handled before.”