Dear members of the Virginia Tech community,

Now that the winter chill has begun to depart from Blacksburg, the warmer weather gives us more opportunities to do fun and healthy things outside. However, it has also resulted in an uptick in large outdoor gatherings which has compromised the safety of the community and runs counter to the continued vigilance needed for effective public health measures. We have reason to be optimistic – especially as more and more are vaccinated – but we must remember that we are still very much in a pandemic, and each of us must act with great care and caution.

Toward that end, and in order to continue to manage the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia Tech will restrict outdoor gatherings to 50 people, and indoor gatherings on campus continue to be limited to 10 people. The Town of Blacksburg will continue to restrict all gatherings to no more than 50 people either indoors and outdoors.

On Tuesday, the governor of Virginia announced new guidelines for gathering sizes of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, beginning April 1. However, the Blacksburg Town Council voted on Tuesday evening to confirm the 50-person gathering size for indoor and outdoor gatherings. This decision is supported by both the Town and by Virginia Tech. Their action underscores the seriousness with which we must approach the pandemic, and the personal responsibility that each of us must take to lower the risks for the entire community.

The police department will continue to enforce noise ordinances and alcohol violations off campus, and referrals will still be made to the Student Conduct Office. On campus, the COVID-19 Events Working Group will continue to provide guidance for student programming and university-sanctioned events. Additionally, the 50-person limit does not apply to commencement activities, which will adhere to the governor’s separate guidance on commencements.

We hope that students and community members will still find ways to gather safely – whether that meeting is in their pod, enjoying outdoor recreational activities in smaller groups, or attending some of the many events Virginia Tech is offering that follow current safety guidelines.

In summary:

  • On-campus gatherings outdoors must be 50 people or less, indoor gatherings must be 10 people or less;
  • Off-campus gatherings in Blacksburg must be 50 people or less, whether indoors or outdoors;
  • Continue to wear your mask(s) when outside your pod;
  • Continue to practice physical distancing;
  • Get a vaccine as soon as you can.

For now, we must remain vigilant and work to lower the risks for those who are most vulnerable. Making sure that we follow these guidelines now means we can continue to plan for larger in-person gatherings, such as commencement.

We are hopeful as we look forward to many more in-person gatherings and events – once we are truly past the pandemic.

Byron Hughes,
Dean of Students

Anthony Wilson,
Blacksburg Chief of Police