Air Force Academy freshmen will attend the field training portion of basic training this month despite a recent outbreak of coronavirus, according to a school spokesperson.

During the Jacks Valley component of basic training, cadets live in tents and undergo strenuous physical training. But this year the outbreak of COVID-19 complicates the training regimen. 

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"It may have a different look than in past years," academy spokesman Mike Slater said. "It will incorporate social distancing and keep the safety of basic cadets and staff at the forefront."

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The freshmen, who arrived at the school on June 25, will undergo repeated COVID-19 tests during their first several weeks at the academy. Those who test positive will be quarantined in a plan the school's leaders say incorporates  guidance from public health professionals, the Department of Defense, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cadets wear face masks and practice social distancing. The school is also working to track how the virus spreads through contact tracing. Plus, basic cadets will train in smaller groups to limit contact with one another.

The number of positive cases is on par for what the school expected considering cadets came from every Congressional district in the US, Slater said.

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Colorado had 34,664 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday, including 2,685 in El Paso County. The academy has not released information about the number of cadets who have tested positive because of a Department of Defense policy, Slater added.

The Defense Department quit releasing base-by-base information on the virus after a controversy surrounding an outbreak on the carrier USS Roosevelt.

None of the nearly 1,200 freshmen have been hospitalized or sent home because of positive COVID-19 tests.



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