Academy’s process wouldn’t work here – News – Ag Journal - Freelance Rack

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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Academy’s process wouldn’t work here – News – Ag Journal

Officials from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs said the military school went to great lengths to keep its cadets healthy during an out-door in-person commencement ceremony held on April 18.

District 60 school officials said after contacting the academy about how the ceremony was planned, they decided that the logistics were not something the district could do in Pueblo.

In the wake of their decision to hold virtual graduations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, district board members and officials have been questioned as to why an outdoor event like the one in Colorado Springs couldn’t be held at Dutch Clark Stadium for graduating seniors.

“Although our school district is moving forth with diligently planning for a virtual graduation ceremony, we wanted to do our due diligence with respect to exploring the possibility of all options. In doing so, we reached out to the Air Force Academy to learn more about how they were able to safely conduct their graduation ceremony with cadets in attendance,“ said Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso.

“The information provided was very thorough, and the measures they took to ensure the safety and health of their cadets were highly controlled and disciplined, worthy of what one would expect from an elite military academy.”

Macaluso said clearly, there are many components that are unique to the USAFA that are not replicable to the general public.

“Although we share in the disappointment that is prevalent in these challenging times, D60 remains committed to ensuring a virtual ceremony that all students can be part of and be proud of. Our hope is that this virtual ceremony will serve as a keepsake and memory of how our community came to honor and celebrate the Class of 2020,” Macaluso said.

The academy’s April 18 graduation, which took place more than a month before its originally-scheduled date, was an outdoor ceremony that was broadcast virtually.

No visitors were allowed into the ceremony — no friends, family or faculty — and cadets were spaced 6-8 feet apart at all times.

The academy said that all freshmen, sophomores and juniors left in March and all cadets began distance online learning.

Cadets were monitored continuously, given health screenings, and were living under isolation measures, before the military academy’s commencement.

Safety measures included isolating cadets one to each room in dormitories, and observing social-distancing at all times. If cadets showed any symptoms or were exposed, they were tested and isolated outside of the cadet area.

The base locked down to all but official business for the six weeks prior to graduation. Cadets were essentially under quarantine and strict social distancing guidelines, including cadet-only shopping hours at the commissary, grab-and-go meals on base, and more.

Cadets could not walk across the stage in order to reduce any potential physical contact. Cadets were instead conferred degrees as a group.

While cadets did not wear masks during the ceremony because they were properly distanced, academy officials said all cadets wore masks traveling to and from the ceremony.

Cadet movements were tightly controlled, and they all proceeded directly from their rooms to the mess hall for a health screening, and following the ceremony, they returned to their dormitories.

The Air Force Academy told District 60 in a statement: “We went to great lengths to keep our cadets healthy. While the U.S. Air Force Academy is an institution of higher education, we are also a military installation, and unlike most students across the country, 100% of our cadets live here on base and were in a mostly closed environment for the past six weeks.“

“Our very unique ability to contain and control our cadet population presented a unique ability to do this. These are capabilities most schools don’t have and control measures they can’t implement.”

Twitter: @mestas3517

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