As we all know, tomorrow begins the three-day Labor Day holiday weekend. There are a number of great things to do that follow public safety guidelines, including this list of outdoor activities in the New River Valley, virtual events in GobblerConnect, and a list of safe activities you’ll find in tomorrow’s student email.

If this were like Labor Day weekends of the past, many of us would be preparing to head home, visit friends, or otherwise enjoy the holiday with others in Blacksburg. But this year we find ourselves in a global pandemic.

Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic is deadly serious. And while it’s true that its severity may pass over many of us, it is also true that any one of us could transmit this potentially life-altering or even life-ending virus to someone who is loved.

I know it can be hard, but we must again put others first, make hard decisions, hold ourselves accountable, and model our uncompromising commitment to public health and to each other. We will only succeed together — or we will fail together.

As you consider your Labor Day weekend plans, please embrace the following:

  1. Keep your mask on: Unless you’re alone, eating, or sleeping.
  2. Stay physically distant and avoid large gatherings.
  3. Stay in Blacksburg: Now that you’re here, stay here, and tell any visitors to wait until it’s safer to come to Blacksburg.

We know that all of this is difficult, especially if you see your friends or neighbors partying and nothing seems to be going wrong. If you find yourself in a group, indoors, without masks, try to remove yourself from that situation. Better yet, stick with your pod, a small group of friends who are committed to the health of each other. At the very least, remember that every risk-reduction element makes a difference. Put on your mask or try to put some space between yourself and others – even if no one else is doing that. We know peer pressure is real, but every student has the power to speak up and help us reduce the spread.

We all must work together to keep our community safe. We can do this and stay together here in Blacksburg.

Be committed. Be well.

Byron Hughes,
Dean of Students