RADFORD, Va – For the first time in months, thousands of students are starting to return to Radford University.
Businesses and community members are working around the clock preparing to welcome them back, but have are hesitant because of the coronavirus.
Throughout the weekend, the first group of students will begin moving into dorms on-campus.
Radford Mayor David Horton said these students play a major role in the city, especially its economy.
“There are apartment buildings that would be vacant, there are businesses that would not be utilized if students weren’t here, but there’s also a quality of life students bring to our community,” Radford City Mayor David Horton said.
Horton said living in a city that heavily relies on the presence of a university has its pros and cons, but at the end of the day, the university and the city want to do everything possible to prevent a spike in COVID-19 cases.
“We are thrilled to have our students returning, we’re a little nervous for some of the challenges it brings, but our city government and university are working to mitigate some of those challenges,” Horton said.
One of those businesses is Sharkey’s.
The restaurant’s assistant manager, AJ Kennedy, said she’s never dealt with anything like this in the near decade she’s lived in Radford.
“I feel like every day we have to do something new and learn something different, and adjust and that’s the best word for it. [It] has just been an adjustment and we’re just rolling with the punches and however it goes we’re just adapting,” said Kennedy.
She said she can’t imagine a school year without the students. She and her staff are doing everything they can to make sure they can welcome the students back safely with welcome arms.
“During the school year Thursday its all college students up stairs and its wonderful they bring such a vibrance and youth to environment around and to our restaurant as a whole,” Kennedy said.