Community safety, graduation are top priorities during COVID-19 crisis
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force Academy has moved the graduation ceremony for its senior class to April 18.
Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, the Academy’s superintendent, said the new date is in line with his priorities of keeping the community safe and ensuring seniors graduate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This decision was made after much deliberation with our senior-leader staff and the advice and consent of the secretary of the Air Force, the chief of staff of the Air Force and the chief of space operations,” he said.
The event is closed to spectators, friends and relatives of cadets, but the Academy will livestream the ceremony, expected to occur on the terrazzo. Tickets for the event will not be created or distributed.
Senior cadets will design their graduation.
“I have invited the Class of 2020 to help the staff design their graduation ceremony and they will do this with the same care for military tradition and the Academy’s legacy as they’ve done leading other world-class Academy events,” Silveria said.
About 60 seniors are scheduled to commission into the Space Force upon graduating.
More details about the graduation ceremony will be released as they become available.
Reacting to a Global Pandemic: What’s Official Business, What Isn’t
As of 7:30 a.m. April 1, there were 882,106 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide, 188,647 in the U.S. and 2,389 in Colorado, according to the World Health Organization.
Col. Brian Hartless, commander of the 10th Air Base Wing – the Academy’s host unit , declared a public health emergency at the base and issued an official business order explicitly directing anyone on base to limit their travel to official business only. (See more here: https://www.usafa.af.mil/News/News-Display/Article/2128802/af-academy-update-10th-air-base-wing-commander-restricts-on-base-travel/)
Official business includes going to work; official contracted services and deliveries; residents going to base housing; medical or pharmacy services; scheduled appointments; and tending to animals at the Equestrian Center or an RV or camper they own on base.
Official business does not include trips from outside the base to shop at the Commissary and Main Exchange.
Curtailing unofficial visits is one of several restrictions made to keep the base population safe as it, and the rest of the world, reacts to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re all in this together,” Hartless said. “These are all things we’re asked to do and comply with to make our communities safe during this crisis. We could very well be asked to do more as this situation evolves.”
'Keeping You Safe’
Here’s a rundown on other measures the Air Force Academy has taken to keep the base safe and increase the potential for the class of 2020 to graduate on time.
-- The North Gate is closed until further notice and the Academy is open to official business only.
-- Roughly 75-percent of cadets have left the Academy for the homes of friends and families to continue their education through online distance learning.
“Our cadets were still weeks out from spring break so we had the opportunity to make the call on whether they should stay at the Academy in a more contained and safe environment with our leadership and healthcare professionals, or return home to varying situations that could preclude them from graduating in May,” Silveria said. “In all of our decisions, we have consulted our medical professionals, the sister service academies and Air Force and Defense Department leadership.”
Silveria said he can guarantee access to COVID-19 testing and medical care from the base’s 10th Medical Group.
Center for Character and Leadership Development
The authority given to base commanders to declare a public health emergency also gives them the authority to take corresponding measures to enhance the security and safety of their installation. In this case, the base commander has closed the base to official business only. Shopping at the Main Exchange and Commissary is not official business. Shopping on base is limited to those who live on base: service members, their families and cadets.
Anyone attempting to enter the base to shop will be asked to leave. (See more at: https://www.usafa.af.mil/News/News-Display/Article/2128802/af-academy-update-10th-air-base-wing-commander-restricts-on-base-travel/)
Child Development Center
Services limited to children of parents or guardians designated as mission essential.
Services suspended. Chaplains are available for anyone needing ministry services. Call 333-3300 for more information.
Catholic and Protestant services are available online each weekend. Catholic service will be livestreamed 9 a.m. Sunday at https://www.facebook.com/groups/StMichaelsAFA. Access to the site must be requested. Protestant services will be posted to https://youtu.be/2CpvPKSyGSY each Saturday morning.
Closed: Bowling alley, arts and crafts center, cadet entertainment, Eisenhower Golf Course, fitness center and pool.
The Barber Shop in the Community center is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Dental and medical services
Limited. The primary and cadet medical clinics are open, and most non-essential medical services are curtailed. Dental appointments are restricted to emergency, essential and pain management care.
Stopped. Fishing on the base and the sales of fishing permits has stopped until further notice.
Delivery has stopped. Customers may drop off or receive official Mail at the Official Mail Office in the Community Center.
Pass and Registration Office
Closed. Services are available at the Large Vehicle Inspection Station.
[Visit www.usafa.edu, www.usafa.af.mil and the Academy’s official Facebook, Instagram and Twitter sites for the latest information.]