From President Tim Sands: The challenge ahead is to stay the course
As we anticipate the beginning of the holiday season, I want to thank you for coming together and rising to meet a challenge unlike anything we have faced for generations. We began the fall semester with a good plan and confidence that our community would take the individual and collective action necessary for success by wearing masks, maintaining distance, and avoiding crowds.
It took discipline, persistence, and a core commitment to the well-being of others, and while we were not perfect, we did what was necessary to ensure the completion of the in-person/hybrid portion of our fall semester.
As of this writing, Schiffert Health Center is reporting a daily average in positive COVID-19 tests of about 12, with an overall positivity rate of about 3 percent. Roughly 10 percent of students living on campus tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection at some point in the semester. Random prevalence testing among undergraduate students who live on campus is yielding a positivity of 1.9 percent, while the off-campus positivity is about 1.2 percent. Surveillance testing of employees who serve in higher-contact roles shows a positivity of about 0.1 percent.
Notably, these prevalence figures have been stable since mid-October, about the time COVID-19 began surging once again across the country and in much of Virginia. Our partners at the New River Health District have not seen transmission in Virginia Tech’s workplaces or instructional spaces, nor is there significant evidence of transmission from Virginia Tech students to the surrounding communities.
Our challenge today is staying the course. COVID-19 is arguably a greater threat now than at any prior time during the course of this pandemic. As we approach Thanksgiving, take the opportunity to rest, relax, and enjoy time with close friends and family in accordance with public health guidelines. But please remain vigilant and heed the warnings about travel and large indoor groups. With real prospects for vastly better testing, effective treatments, and even vaccines on the horizon, this is not the time to let down our guard.
To our students, we look forward to seeing you back in January for the spring semester. To the entire Virginia Tech community, stay healthy and continue to protect the health of those more vulnerable than yourself. That’s what Hokies do.