Legal Insurrection readers may recall that my son accepted an appointment at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

It turns out that USAFA has been using their Basic Cadet Training Program to determine how best to bring the entire campus back to the institution for the next academic year. My son and about 1200 of his fellow “doolies” have spent the past several weeks social distancing, wearing masks, and being tested for COVID-19 periodically . . . on top of the rigorous program that was already in place.

Now USAFA is bringing back all the cadets back to campus, for a mix of in-person and online training.

The U.S. Air Force Academy announced Thursday that its entire cadet student body will be returning for the fall, making it one of the first universities in the country to have its full student body on campus by the end of July.

Classes at the Air Force Academy will begin in mid-August in a hybrid format, combining in-person and online learning. The Academy said in-person classes may involve outdoor classes or using larger classrooms if there is a small class size.

USAFA officials said that as one of the key Air Force accession sources, it has been deemed mission essential by the Secretary of Defense. The rest of its cadet class will be returning to the Academy in the next week, according to officials.

The USAFA-program for the fall was prepared by a “Pandemic Math Team” of faculty who are experts in statistics, mathematical modeling, biology, virology, and public health.

The team also consulted with officials and guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health, local public health organizations, the Air Force, the Defense Department, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Faculty members developed a testing program to lessen the chances of a “runaway” outbreak of COVID-19 at the academy, the release said. And they gave the academy’s leadership tools and guidance on how they can adapt to changing conditions in real time.

Since cadets began being brought in from across the nation, the academy said, the rate of positive cases has stayed within the 1 percent to 2 percent that was expected. At that rate, the academy can still properly house and care for infected cadets, and those who had contact with them, in the quarantine and isolation space set aside for them.

The plans include housing 400 cadets in hotels off base for the fall semester to maximize social distance living. However, this will be no “Delta House” with toga parties.

The select group of healthy cadets living off-base will be subject the same stringent military training and academic standards, and safety protocols as the cadets remaining on base. Academy supervision will be at the hotels as well.

According to USAFA Commandant Brigadier General Michele Edmonson, the policies that have been established for the Basic Cadet Training program and the fall semester have been the subject of interest by many other administrators across the country. Schools planning in-person programs are likely using the lessons learned by the Academy.

The parents of the Class of 2024 have organized a fund-raiser to provide each new cadet a goodie basket as they transition to the next phase in their Academy career on Acceptance Day.

 

 
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