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Photo of crowded classroom worries some Virginia Tech students

'He (the professor) definitely said that we’ll break the rules today'

Concerns over classroom capacity at Virginia Tech
Concerns over classroom capacity at Virginia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Some Virginia Tech students are raising concerns after a picture spread on social media showing a classroom over capacity and not allowing social distance.

“He (the professor) definitely said that we’ll break the rules today,” said the Virginia Tech student who took the picture and posted it. He didn’t want to be identified, fearing backlash.

Breaking the rules is exactly what dozens of Virginia Tech students saw in a classroom Monday, raising questions as the picture hit social media and quickly went viral.

“When I first entered the class, it was already full and they had spread the desks out and so we kind of came in and it took a little bit for everyone to realize what was going on,” the student who posted the picture said.

In emails shown to 10 News, students were told the professor would be replaced temporarily while the College of Engineering investigated the incident, calling it “unacceptable.”

University spokesperson Mark Owczarski would not confirm that, instead issuing the following statement:

“Yesterday was the first day of a semester like no other. All of us at Virginia Tech—students and faculty—are holding classes and providing instruction as we have never held them before. We expect there will be glitches that will need to be addressed. We expect that we will discover situations that will need improvement. In doing so, we will make adjustments, offer assistance and make changes until we get it right. The issue you raise is an example of this.

We also understand this is an anxious time for both students and faculty. We understand the anxieties people must feel when doing something that has never been done before (providing instruction in the context of a pandemic). Virginia Tech will continue its efforts to deliver the best fall instruction we can under the current circumstances. Adjustments will have to made and will be made. We are committed to delivering the highest quality educational experience we can under current pandemic circumstances.”

While Virginia Tech has made its policies against student violations, even off campus, very clear, the university would not clarify how it’s handling violations by professors in the classroom.

“If we’re going to make changes to the way that the school functions, we need to make sure that we are fully prepared for those changes,” the student who posted the picture said.

As the picture continues spreading around campus, the student who started it said he believes each person is responsible for the choice they made to come into the classroom, but other students fear what could happen if issues like this continue.

“We are still in a slightly crazy time and I know I wouldn’t trust being that close to somebody,” Virginia tech student Rahul Gupta said.

“I don’t want to be shut down so I definitely think that we really do need to follow the rules,” Virginia tech student Julia Desocio said.

About the Author:

Jessica anchors 10 News on Saturdays and Sundays at 6 and 11 p.m. You can also catch her reporting during the week.