VT suspends 40+ for COVID misconduct, students concerned about safety

VT suspends 40+ for COVID misconduct, students concerned about safety
Virginia Tech (Source: WDBJ)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia Tech is taking a firm stance on COVID enforcement, announcing more than 40 students have been suspended on an interim basis for violating public health guidelines.

“The bottom line is, we’re not going to be able to hold every student accountable, we need people to make good choices out there, day in and day out,” said VP for Student Affairs Frank Shushok.

Some students, though, say the enforcement has not been strict enough – with many still ignoring the rules.

“Some of the experiences I’ve had in the past week, I was speaking with one constituent, they said, and I quote ‘I’ve served my time, I’m going to get it [COVID-19] anyway, I might as well get it while I rage,’” said VP of Student Government Chapman Pendery.

Friday, university administrators held a town hall with undergraduate and graduate student representatives discussing concerns their fellow classmates have raised.

Students appreciate the Virginia Tech COVID dashboard, but would like to see more testing and more data.

“It would be nice if we could see increased transparency about where these cases are coming from -- are they on campus? Are they off campus? What dorms are they coming from? And it would be nice to know if we could include hospitalization data,” said doctoral scholar Margaret Nagai.

The university announced 9,000 students were tested for coronavirus on move-in weekend.

Starting Monday, Tech plans to begin random pool testing—running 600 tests, seven days a week— combining the tests of four students who often interact closely together.

“If they’re all negative, it just comes up negative and that way you didn’t have to run four separate runs, you only had to run one run. Any time it comes up positive, of course, we have to go back and test each one of those individually,” said Michael Friedlander, the Director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.

Students also questioned what it would take for the university to shift to fully online classes.

President Tim Sands responded: “Going online is not the end-all, it might be a small step, and it’s certainly one of the options we have ahead of us, but probably not the most effective thing we can do.”

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