BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) – The first day of move-in is one of the most exciting times of the year for Virginia Tech, but Friday is going to be unlike any other year.
Thursday the parking lots around VT’s campus were practically empty. Friday, the first day of move-in, they’ll be a little bit fuller, but campus won’t be nearly as busy as move in days have been in the past.
“We have been working all summer long as a university to prepare as best we can for the opening and move-in of school,” VT spokesperson Mark Owczarski said.
The first noticeable change is the number of students arriving Friday.
“Typically, we would average on the first day of move-in, we would have more than 50 percent,” Owczarski said.
For a campus that houses about 10,000 students, that means roughly 5,000 students and their parents swarm the campus ready to get the school year started.
“This year we’re scheduling every student and their family,” he said. “They’re coming in in small groups so that families can be socially distant.”
And instead of moving everyone in over the course of four days, move in will last 11 days with only about 700 students checking in each day.
“It’s going to be a very different look and feel,” Owczarski said.
The role of the Hokie Helper will also be less hands on.
“We need to understand that families are pods and those families are safe together,” he said. “And the introduction of new people needs to be done in a socially distant way.”
Students, family members and Hokie helpers will all be required to wear masks.
“We’ll still have the Hokie Helpers, but the ability to engage and to help will be different,” Owczarski explained.
Instead of rushing to the cars of students, grabbing as much as they can, putting the stuff in a bin and then helping take them to their dorms, Hokie Helpers will guide students through the process of moving in.
“It’ll be more about welcoming,” Owczarski said. “It’ll be more about helping families understand what the new process will be like, where the elevators are, where the path to their room is so that the work, the burden, the lift, all of that stuff can be done easily for families.”
Another major change is the COVID testing at Lane Stadium that each student is required to get after moving into their dorm.
“And then we’re asking our students to kind of hang out and stay to themselves until they get their results back which should be in about 24 hours,” he said.
Owczarski said this is an unprecedented school year and there’s a lot of trepidation, but he’s confident this will be an amazing year for Hokie Nation if everyone works together.
“This year will be very different and students do want to be part of that college experience,” he said. “We’re going to need them to be responsible, to do the things they need to do, so that everybody is doing what they need to do.”
And the one thing that won’t change is the Hokies’ welcoming spirit.
“They say if you smile behind a mask, you can still see the smile with your eyes. And that’s the best we can do right now in addition to kind words and welcoming words. As well as help, instruction, support. All those kinds of things to help in a manner that is safe to do so.”
Almost all classes are completely virtual or operating on a hybrid learning model.
The first day of class for Virginia Tech is August 24.
Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.