Officer Training School has plan in place to minimize COVID-19, maximize safety

  • Published
  • By Phil Berube
  • Air University Public Affairs

The Officer Training School at Air University will execute an aggressive plan at the start of its next class March 31, 2020, to help mitigate the possible spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of staff, incoming officer trainees and the community.

Officer Training School is one of Air Education and Training Command’s education programs identified as mission essential in maintaining the readiness of the force.

In his memorandum sent to AETC commanders March 18, 2020, AETC Commander Lt. Gen. Brad Webb included OTS as one of the training and education programs that will continue amid the coronavirus outbreak, stating, “Maintaining AETC's recruiting, training and education activities and pipeline is critical to the operational mission success of our commanders executing the National Security Strategy."

The plan OTS has in place centers around the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: social distancing, pre-screening for symptoms of the coronavirus and continual monitoring.

Before arrival, each officer trainee was personally contacted by OTS staff and asked about their health conditions and any recent travel. Upon arrival to OTS, each trainee will be medically screened before being allowed to process in to the school.

Once medically cleared, they will then start their eight weeks of training. For the first two weeks, the officer trainees will solely be in an academic setting with their assigned instructor and about 16 other flight members, with no close interaction with other flights and instructors.

“Combined training, such as drill and ceremony, group physical training and expeditionary skills training, won’t happen until after the first two weeks,” said Lt. Col. James Carrabbia, OTS director of staff. “To the maximum extent possible, for the first 14 days, the trainees will keep to their flights while still adhering to social distancing with the other members of their flight.”

For example, one flight at a time will go through the serving line at meal time, with two trainees per table and an empty row of tables between flights. Additionally, only two trainees, instead of the usual four, will share a dorm room, with their beds separated as far as possible, and each flight will occupy its own hallway in the dorm.

The plan also outlines specific building entry and exit doors to be used by groups of three flights; coordinated timing for flight movement between buildings on the OTS complex; scheduled times for each flight to use the OTS track; and a designated instructor for each flight who will not be allowed to interact with another flight, and other stringent measures.

OTS Class 20-05 consists of about 300 officer trainees, with six flights of 13-16 per each of the four squadrons.

“These are just some of the many measures we have in place to maximize the safety of our trainees and instructors and to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus,” said Col. Jayson Allen, OTS vice commandant. “The OTS staff and instructors have reimagined our curriculum to produce the next generation of leaders for the total force while protecting everyone’s health and safety.”