The U.S. Air Force Academy intends to bring back about three-quarters of its Cadet Wing—basic cadets included—this summer, USAFA Graduate Liaison Nicole Cox wrote in a May 27 email to alumni that was obtained by Air Force Magazine. A USAFA spokesperson confirmed the email’s validity.
“Cadets will be brought back in multiple waves based on timing for their summer programs,” she wrote.
Safety measures will be taken to mitigate COVID-19 risk, including:
- Social distancing
- Wearing of masks
- Only permitting large gatherings that are of a mission-essential nature
- Separating those attending Basic Cadet Training from those who are at the Academy for operational programs while they reside in the Vandenberg Hall and Sijan Hall dormitories.
Cadets will also be placed under a two-week restriction of movement when they get to the Academy, she said.
“During ROM, cadets will have limited movement around campus but will be able to enjoy time outside in the quad according to physical distancing guidance,” Cox wrote. “This includes the ability to exercise with some limited equipment in the quads following COVID protocols and go for runs/walks/hikes with the approval of their AOCs [Air Officers Commanding].”
Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria told Air Force Magazine that the new coronavirus outbreak “has transformed every aspect” of USAFA, including summer programs.
“We must continue to accomplish our mission of providing the Air and Space Forces with highly qualified officers,” he said. “We will conduct summer programs, including Basic Cadet Training, with safety and social distancing at the forefront, working closely with Academy, local and state public health professionals, and in line with CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and DOD guidelines. This means summer programs will look very different from years past.”
While USAFA life might look different from pre-pandemic days, Cox noted that cadets will still be able to get meals from Mitchell Hall (albeit to go), workout at the Cadet Fitness Center, and access the “golf course, bowling alley, stables, hiking trails, and the commissary/BX.”
They’ll also have the opportunity to attend social events offered by Arnold Hall, “such as Paint-and-Sip and Dogs-and-Coffee,” and will be permitted to leave the installation “with proper approval for essential services such as food pick-up and curbside service.”
“While both on- and off-base cadets have been asked to act responsibly, carry masks, and abide by social distancing,” Cox wrote.
Over the summer, the Academy plans to conduct academics, airmanship programs, Basic Cadet Training, and Air Force Academy Preparatory School Basic Military Training, Cox wrote.
In terms of academics, USAFA will offer more than 1,000 academic seats to cadets, and classes will be taught both in-person and remotely. Some cadets will also get the chance to take more than one class at a time, which wasn’t previously allowed in the summer, according to the letter.
“Cadets in need of summer academics will be prioritized; however, the increased number of seats will allow for additional cadets to take advantage of this opportunity,” she wrote.
The school will also offer opportunities for cadets to complete remote research, as well as a seminar series featuring “world-class subject matter experts on topics such as AI, cyber, and UAVs,” Cox said.
With respect to airmanship, soaring and jump cadet instructors will head back to campus.
“There will be a focus on student courses [Basic Soaring and Basic Freefall] and on cadets interested in pursuing upgrade opportunities during the 20-21 Academic Year,” Cox wrote.
Unmanned aerial systems cadre will also be called back to campus to make sure “currency and qualification standards are met in anticipation of the fall semester,” Cox wrote.