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COVID-19 and USAFA Frequently Asked Questions

Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) continues to spread and is an increasing force health protection threat worldwide.  We are closely monitoring and preparing for any impacts to our mission.  The U.S. Air Force Academy and surrounding installations are currently deemed “low risk”. As this is a dynamic situation, this page will provide timely information on the evolving outbreak, as well as actions the university is taking to mitigate the spread of the virus. Please check back regularly for recommendations and instructions for cadets, faculty and staff.

Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) continues to spread and is an increasing force health protection threat worldwide. We are closely monitoring and preparing for any impacts to our mission. The U.S. Air Force Academy and surrounding installations are currently deemed “low risk”. As this is a dynamic situation, this page will provide timely information on the evolving outbreak, as well as actions the university is taking to mitigate the spread of the virus. Please check back regularly for recommendations and instructions for cadets, faculty and staff.

What does Official Business Only actually mean?

USAFA is under HPCON Charlie and access is granted for Official Business Only. The Academy is minimizing contact between the on-base community, including our cadets, and the off-base community. Cadets are restricted to base. The Exchange and Commissary are NOT considered Official Business. People should only be coming on base under these conditions:

  • To go to work (includes contracts providing an official service)
  • To perform contracted deliveries
  • To access medical care
  • To go to an appointment at the Military Personnel Flight
  • To take care of a stabled horse
  • To access an RV stored on base
  • To access base housing

How many people at USAFA are being monitored for COVID-19/coronavirus? Are cadets/faculty/staff exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19? Are there currently any positive cases?  

As of March 25, there are no positive cases in the Cadet Wing and one positive in the 10th Air Base Wing. Out of an abundance of caution, we are monitoring anyone who shows signs of illness. We are following CDC and DOD guidelines for testing and medical responses. 

If a cadet tests positive, what is the isolation plan? 

Cadets suspected of exposure to the virus or show signs of illness will be assessed. If the assessment shows the cadet may have been exposed, they will be quarantined and tested. If the test results as a positive, the cadet will remain in isolation until the symptoms have resolved and/or lab results return negative. 

What is the status of the cadet wing?  

On March 13, with two goals in mind 1) protect the health and safety of our population, and 2) graduate the class of 2020 on time, the Superintendent released the lower three classes at the Academy to their home or an alternate location of their choosing within the DoD Travel Guidelines. The First Class Cadets were held in place on campus.  

This decision will allow USAFA to spread out the remaining cadets to achieve the suggested social distancing while they continue their education and training requirements. Most of the dismissed cadets departed the Academy March 13-15, but the full transition is an ongoing process. The Academy is very proud of the actions of everyone at USAFA since Friday morning. We saw exceptional leadership from the class of 2020 as they helped so many leave USAFA. Additionally, we are very appreciative of the many USAFA graduates and sponsor families that stepped up to help departing cadets get to the locations they needed. 

Are classes canceled? Are you considering canceling graduation? 

The Academy will be providing remote (distance learning) classes and training to all cadets starting on March 25. The classes and training will be provided through a myriad of online sources to continue to provide the best training, education and development for our future Air and Space Forces leaders. The Academy’s goal is to get the class of 2020 to meet all graduation requirements in a timely manner and join the Air and Space Forces as commissioned officers this summer. The 2020 Graduation Ceremony details have not been determined at this time. 

Will Admissions still be accepting applications?

While the Air Force Academy is currently closed to visitors, the Selections Division in the Office of Admissions is open and processing applications. For current candidates to the Class of 2024, we expect to have decisions out for direct entry into the Academy by April 21.  We will continue to work offers to the Preparatory School and Falcon Foundation into May. 

All notifications are made through the Admissions Applicant Portal. Candidates should receive an email in the account used for their application notifying them they have a new message in their portal.

Did the international cadets leave the Academy? 

Six of 58 international cadets have left the Academy for a location within the U.S. The remaining international cadets were not allowed to return to their home country and remain here at the Academy.   

When will the Cadets return?  

We are in the middle of an unprecedented event. USAFA leadership and medical staff will continue evaluating the health and safety of the Cadet Wing daily and will return the cadet wing when appropriate. 

What should USAFA personnel that are worried about being exposed to COVID-19 do? 

We encourage all USAFA personnel to follow the Force Health Protection guidance/official messages as well as the CDC and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidance. The CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19. 

Center for Disease Control 

Colorado State Public Health 

USAFA 10th MDG Patient Appointment line 719-526-2273 

What are Force Health Protection Conditions (HPCON)? 

Much like the guidance that CDC provides to the public, the Department of Defense provides similar guidance to military commanders. The primary difference is that the DoD guidance is designed to ensure the Department of Defense can continue to perform its mission. Installation commanders use the HPCON framework to select an appropriate response to a public health emergency or incident of public health concern. The framework clarifies uncertainty associated with these situations and provides options based on the scope and severity of the situation. 

What are the different HPCONS? 

The following is a brief description of each HPCON level. 

  • HPCON 0 – Normal Operations. No known health risks, other than diseases endemic to the area surrounding the installation.  

  • HPCON Alpha – Limited Disease Threat. There is a limited threat to personnel based on the existence of a disease or unusual human health threat that has the potential to rapidly move into the local area (i.e., an area defined by each installation as consisting of a predetermined distance or a list/map depicting by-name counties surrounding the installation).  

  • HPCON Bravo – Moderate Disease Threat. There is a moderate disease threat and/or a real risk of exposure to personnel due to a significant outbreak of disease in the local area or imminent spread of disease to the local area. HPCON B would be employed by the commander if notified by the PHEO that there has been an initial case identification of a contagious disease, such as a novel influenza, or a dramatic increase in the risk of acquiring a new significant disease from the environment within the local area.  

  • HPCON Charlie – Substantial Disease Threat. There is a substantial threat of disease for personnel due to a local epidemic outbreak of a disease with a high morbidity rate, imminent spread of such a disease to the local area, and/or a wide area of contamination that requires special or costly avoidance procedures.  

  • HPCON Delta – Severe Disease Threat. A local epidemic with a high mortality rate or imminent spread of such a disease to the local area will drive enactment of HPCON D. 

Are visitors allowed to visit USAFA? 

As a precautionary measure, and in response to the world and nationwide spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Air Force Academy temporarily closed to visitors as of Friday, March 13, 2020, at 5 p.m. until further notice. This restriction does not impact access for on-base residents, Air Academy High School students and faculty, Department of Defense ID card holders, or anyone conducting official business. Gate hours also remain unchanged. 

Are base facilities still open to users? 

Please check the Air Force Academy 10th Force Support Squadron website and USAFA Twitter for the most up to date facility hours and services provided. 

Can I still store or pick up my RV if I store it on base?

Yes. If you store your Recreational Vehicle on the installation, you can come on base and are encouraged to bring proof of ownership documentation and retrieve or store it. 

What if I have horses that I keep at the Academy stables? 

You can feed and tend to your horses with proof of ownership documentation with you. 

What is the current and potential risk of COVID-19 transmission to USAFA writ large? 

Currently, the risk of the Novel Coronavirus to the U.S. Air Force Academy is assessed by medical professionals as low.  However, with current outbreaks occurring globally, this could rapidly change. The Department of Defense has assessed the level of threat to DoD personnel stationed around the world as moderate risk. 

Does USAFA have the lab and lab personnel to conduct COVID-19 testing locally and if not, where would lab specimens be sent and how long of a lag time would there be in obtaining results? 

The 10th Medical Group laboratory is not authorized to conduct COVID-19 testing nor do they have the capabilities. Lab functions to provide collection kits and our providers are authorized to collect the samples. Samples are mailed to the State Laboratory at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. They have the capabilities to test 160 samples/day.  Current turn-around time for results is 24 hours. Turn-around time may be extended if the State experiences an influx of samples. 

Will cadets or other populations at USAFA be tested in advance of someone becoming symptomatic or testing positive for COVID-19? 

Testing is based on an algorithm released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The Colorado State Department of Health testing algorithm is a bit more lenient to include those persons who have traveled to a location with known community spread or an active outbreak.  Each case would be discussed with the State Department of Health for final adjudication on a case. 

Can I go to the USAFA Clinic if I want to get tested? 

The clinic will not accept walk-in appointments for patients wishing to test for COVID-19. For those who want to be tested, please schedule an appointment with your health care team by calling the Patient Appointing Service (PAS) at 719-526-2273. You will be asked to leave a message. Clinical staff will return your call and schedule an appointment that does not put you, other patients, and our health care workers at risk.  Patients may also call the Nurse Advice Line (1-800-874-2273). We have dedicated clinical teams ready to respond. 

Is the COVID-19 outbreak affecting the application process for the Class of 2024? 

For the incoming Class of 2024, the admission office does not predict any complications with application processing and will adhere to the timetable in the “Instructions to Candidates” booklet that is provided on the candidate portals. All candidates will know their status of admissions on or before April 21, 2020. Candidates who are not selected for an appointment for the Class of 2024 may re-apply after July 1.  

For the future Class of 2025, the website is open for new applicants to complete the Pre-Candidate Questionnaire and submit for review. Our Admissions Counselors will review new applications and provide feedback to applicants via their portal. If applicants are “considered competitive” the remainder of their application will open in July. 

Where do I go for civilian personnel questions? 

To learn more about our civilian personnel policies and flexibilities as it relates to communicable diseases and influenza, as well as Frequently Asked Questions regarding leave and telework, click here. This website provides up-to-date guidance from the Department of the Air Force, Department of Defense and the Office of Personnel Management. Military and civilian personnel may also visit the secure myPers website (CAC required) for more information. 

Who do I contact for specific Cadet and Squadron rules and policies? 

It is recommended to contact the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) of the specific Squadron with questions regarding specific cadets or squadron policies.   

Can I still take my Fitness Test during HPCON C? 

Effective March 17, 2020, all Official Fitness Assessment Testing is cancelled until June 2020.    

  • Members who are due for their Official Fitness Assessment in March will test in 6 months, September 2020. 

  • Members who are due for their Official Fitness Assessment in April will test in 6 months, October 2020. 

  • Members who are due for their Official Fitness Assessment in May will test in 6 months, November 2020. 

Fitness Assessment Cells must ensure that AFMMS II is updated to reflect a Commander Composite Exemption on each member who is due for their Official Fitness Assessment in March, April and May.  FACs must also ensure the expiration dates reflect the same due dates indicated above to prevent members going into a non-current status.  

Fitness Testing will resume on June 1, 2020, unless further guidance is published. 

Helpful Links 

This information can also be found at https://www.usafa.edu/news/coronavirus/

(Current as of March 17, 2020.)