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Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps’ Response to COVID-19

Wild Blue Yonder / Maxwell AFB, AL --


The Coronavirus, or Covid-19, has brought the entire world to a standstill; our nation’s leaders are scrambling to stop the spread of the virus by any means they deem necessary, with some states implementing fines for going against social distancing policies.

Uncertainty has begun to breed anxiety among the hundreds of cadets awaiting Field Training this summer. One question being, how will they screen for the virus among the arriving cadets? Dozens of similar questions have arisen due to the recent decision to have mandated self-quarantine two weeks prior to Field Training, which, for some cadets is not practical. Cadets come from all walks of life; some are deemed essential workers, who are going to be unable to quarantine themselves. Others have elderly guardians who need them for support to minimize their risk of infection. So, taking these concerns into consideration, I do not see a self- quarantine as effective, because some cannot follow it and others will not.

In a ceremony combining established, solemn ritual with new, medically necessary protocols, 967 U.S. Air Force Academy cadets will graduate April 18, launching careers in the Air and Space Forces as second lieutenants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Trevor Cokley)
Air Force Academy prepares for historic graduation
In a ceremony combining established, solemn ritual with new, medically necessary protocols, 967 U.S. Air Force Academy cadets will graduate April 18, launching careers in the Air and Space Forces as second lieutenants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Trevor Cokley)
Photo By: Trevor Cokley
VIRIN: 200417-F-AF999-0013

(US Air Force photo by Trevor Cokley)

Figure 1. New normal. In a ceremony combining established, solemn ritual with new, medically necessary protocols, 967 US Air Force Academy cadets prepare to graduate 18 April 2020, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, launching careers in the Air and Space Forces as second lieutenants. A similar scenario awaits AFROTC cadets heading for Field Training this summer.

Nevertheless, Field Training cannot simply be canceled, because next year that would mean shoving double the cadets through Maxwell AFB, Alabama, which is impractical. This means the only reasonable option to decrease the risk to the cadets would be to quarantine them somewhere the Air Force can have greater control over their schedules.

This is a pivotal point for our country—as a society, and as an Air Force—and it’s our job to help stop the spread of the virus.

Cadet Drew T. Pownall

Cadet Pownall attends West Virginia University and is a member of Detachment 915 and the Arnold Air Society.

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