As we approach the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic’s arrival to Virginia Tech, we are once again thankful to our students and our whole community for understanding that their individual behavior plays a large role in our success in managing COVID in our area. We know many people are experiencing high levels of pandemic fatigue and frustration. I know, I can feel it too. Over the past couple of weeks, it has not been uncommon to hear people talk about hitting the wall. This kind of relentless fatigue can lead to a loss of vigilance and the desire to give up public safety practices. Please don’t.

I know it is hard to keep on at this point in the pandemic, but we must continue to 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.

Once again, I want to remind you to follow some simple guidelines to keep you and those you love safe and healthy:

  1. Keep your mask on: Unless you’re alone, eating, or sleeping.
  2. Stay physically distant and avoid large gatherings.
  3. Wash your hands.
  4. 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 others ignoring the guidelines 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