Naval Academy upper-class midshipmen will return to campus this fall, though much of their education will likely still be conducted online due to the coronavirus pandemic, the academy announced Friday.
Junior, sophomore and senior midshipmen will be tested upon arrival, and then their movement will be restricted for two weeks. They will then be tested again, spokesperson Cmdr. Alana Garas said in a statement.
The academy will also begin random testing of students, faculty and staff on Aug. 24. Midshipmen will not be allowed to leave the Yard, and it will be closed to the general public as a precaution against the asymptomatic transmission of the coronavirus.
Plebes arrived on the Yard in early July and underwent two weeks of quarantine in a similar routine to the once announced for other mids. They were confined mostly to their dorm rooms with meals delivered and classwork online.
The decision to bring the mids back to Annapolis on the same day St. John's College announced it would conducted classes online, and keep its Annapolis campus closed.
Bancroft Hall, which typically houses all midshipmen, will only house 4,100 of the 4,600 total students. Garas said the other students will hopefully be housed in the Annapolis area. The midshipmen will eat in shifts to allow for social distancing, rather than all together as they typically do.
"While not optimal, a significant portion of academic learning may be achieved in an online forum. I am a firm believer, however, that leadership development requires hands-on learning, and training future leaders is the primary mission of this institution," said Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck. "Having the Brigade of Midshipmen back in one central location is critical to our mission accomplishment."
Their return will be staggered through early September, though classes will begin on Aug. 19, Naval Academy spokesperson Jennifer Erickson said. The students who will start remotely, most of whom are in their second year at the academy, will have their textbooks shipped to them.
The academy announced in June that the fall semester would begin online.
When they return, midshipmen will be required to wear masks at all times in the classroom, and no more than 10 students will be allowed in a classroom at any given time. Faculty will be required to wear masks anytime they are within 10 feet of any students.
Faculty, staff and coaches will be expected to self-monitor their health and will be asked not to report to work if they show any flu-like symptoms. Garas said workspaces are being reconfigured to allow for social distancing. The academy will increase cleaning across the Yard.
Garas said the academy will continue to evaluate its plans.
This article is written by Olivia Sanchez from The Capital, Annapolis, Md. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.