VIRGINIA TECH PRESIDENT TIMOTHY SANDS LETTER: In recent days, the first confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Southwest Virginia have emerged. Included among these cases is a member of the Virginia Tech community, a student living off campus in Blacksburg who is believed to have been exposed during recent international travel.  According to the New River Health District, our student is receiving care and has been in self-isolation, with no known exposures to the public. There is no evidence of a risk of community spread and we wish the student a quick recovery.

The Virginia Department of Health, working with our own health professionals, has identified the individuals who came in contact with the student and is managing the situation to prevent further exposure in this case. Based on the experiences of other Virginia communities, and those throughout the country, it is likely that more cases will be identified in the coming days and weeks. Going forward, all cases will be noted on Virginia Tech’s COVID-19 website. Our thoughts are with everyone in the Hokie community nationwide and around the world who is dealing with the effects of the virus.

By now you all should be aware of the current procedures we have in place to continue instruction online, maintain research and critical operations, and keep our employees on the payroll, while also following state mandates and recommendations to minimize the spread of the virus.  It is more important than ever for you to stay informed by visiting and reading the Daily Email.

I strongly encourage you to follow public health guidelines to stay at home and practice social distancing to keep our community healthy and ensure that we continue to have the capacity to care for and manage the needs of those who become ill. There is strong evidence that communities that take decisive action to #flattenthecurve have fewer cases of COVID-19.

Our local community has created a task force to share resources and expertise to meet the needs that arise.  I encourage you to support the local businesses who are working to provide food and essentials within the guidelines issued by the governor and Virginia Department of Health. In addition to the serious health concerns, this situation is potentially devastating for businesses and community partners, many of which have supported Virginia Tech for generations.  Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Montgomery County are a crucial part of what makes our campus a unique and a special place. We could not ask for better partners, neighbors, and friends.

I want to speak directly to our students, those in Blacksburg as well as those in communities across the country. Whether you are here on the Blacksburg campus, in off-campus residences, or in another community, it is your individual and collective responsibility in the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) to respect and protect yourself and others by following public health guidelines. If you are on campus or in town, continue to follow state and university guidelines regarding social distance and limited contact. Stay at home if you can. You are here because this is the safest and perhaps the only place you had to go, a place you share with a broad community of people whose generous spirit of friendship and hospitality makes Virginia Tech feel like home.

This semester we will all face challenges, and we will all have opportunities to have a positive impact on the lives of others.  Thank you for everything you do to support our community.