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City, school respond after large gathering off Radford University’s campus

Published: Aug. 2, 2020 at 8:33 AM EDT
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - The City of Radford is responding after a reported large gathering off Radford University’s campus over the weekend.

Saturday, students started to move back on campus for the fall semester. So far there has been at least one report of too many people gathering and not properly distancing, according to city officials.

“We understand that you want to socialize, but big grouped, non-social or physical distancing socialization is a problem,” said Mayor David Horton.

It comes on the heels of a special council meeting to address this exact issue that was held Friday night.

“This is about individual responsibility, but we’re creating a framework to help facilitate that individual responsibility and decision making,” Horton said.

Right now the city is working on a two-pronged approach to limit the size of gatherings with so many people coming back from out of town and mask-wearing.

“I hate wearing a mask, you hate wearing a mask, but it may be the tool that we have to keep from having to shut everything down again,” Horton said. “We’re not blaming anyone, we’re not pointing a finger, but what we’re trying to do is target specific high-risk areas and high risk activities to try to deal with it so we don’t have to shut down our businesses completely.”

Radford University responded with this statement:

Radford University is excited to welcome new and returning students to our campus and our community as we begin the Fall 2020 semester.

We have established very clear expectations that our students, as well as faculty and staff members, will follow orders by the Governor related to face coverings and gathering limitations. The University’s expectations and the Commonwealth’s requirements are not optional!

All Highlanders, especially each and every student, have a social responsibility to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our broader community. As such, the University has a no tolerance approach for those who disregard our community’s public health and best interests.

Students refusing to adhere to public health guidelines and exercise social responsibility will be held accountable. The University has increased the presence of the Police Department and Student Affairs on and around campus. We will be vigilant in our patrol efforts and related enforcement.

In addition to the University’s efforts, we will lock arms and partner with the City of Radford and its Police Department to protect our community.

Horton called this a pivot point for the community because of the return of students, but said gatherings from other community members have been happening, too. In addition, people have been going away on vacations, which also doesn’t help.

“If we as individuals don’t take it upon ourselves to do anything, we will suffer collectively as a community and as a commonwealth,” Horton said. “We’re going to grow much larger and there will be much more likelihood for those types of gatherings. This is everyone needing to have that community spirit and pitch in so we don’t have further problem.”

The city is planning to vote on new rules Tuesday.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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