This past Thursday marked the end of our first two weeks since we started classes on campus. We are very pleased to tell you that we are doing very well in creating our "bubble" around our boarding environment here, and we have had zero cases of COVID-19 on campus within our student body or our staff since our cadets arrived on campus.
Cadets are following our safety protocols very well
As you have no doubt seen from the photographs of cadets in the classroom, at drill, or in physical activities, we have been maintaining our prevention protocols. Our cadets have been doing an excellent job in maintaining social distance or wearing their masks when social distancing is not possible. Even as they are playing table tennis in the social center, they are wearing their masks!
Thanks to the adherence to these protective measures by our young men, we are succeeding in starting our school year off safely.
You should be very proud of these cadets. They are performing admirably under these challenging conditions.
What about Weekend Leaves? Will there be a Parents Weekend?
I have been hearing questions from parents about when their sons might be able to return home on leave, can families come to campus for a visit, or what our plans are for Parents Weekend in October.
We understand that it is difficult for parents to be separated from their young men, especially during unsettling times such as these that we are experiencing. I completely empathize with the need for some concrete answers about these things, though some answers are still to be determined.
Our number one goal is to maintain a safe environment on campus for our cadets so that we can continue the school year without risking the trust and investment you and all of our families are making in sending your sons to us for in-person classroom education.
We have succeeded in only the first step of a lengthy journey: we have kept our environment safe for the first 14 days with no sign of COVID-19 on campus. Now we must work to continue that success.
Keeping our campus community safe and healthy is a responsibility we take very seriously during this pandemic. We don't want to risk our cadets, our staff, or your financial investment in our school, by easing up on our safety protocols at this time.
We do not currently plan to send our cadets home on leave during Term 1.
With cases of COVID-19 still rising in many cities and on a number of college campuses, we do not want to open our campus up to the threat of the coronavirus arriving on our campus through the movement of our cadets from campus to home and back again. We have all seen what has happened on many college campuses when safety protocols have not been maintained effectively. We intend to do better than that at Fork Union Military Academy. We will try to maintain our campus "bubble" as effectively as we can for the next several weeks.
Parent Visits to Campus
Some parents have asked why they are not permitted to visit campus, since we are allowing day students to travel from their homes to campus. This is a reasonable question, but the answer is quite simple.
The families of our boarding cadets live in a wide variety of areas, and many of them are still hotspots for COVID-19 infections.
For example, Fairfax County, Virginia, has had over 18,000 cases of COVID-19 confirmed during this pandemic. The Charlotte / Mecklenburg County area of North Carolina has reported over 25,000 cases.
In comparison, Fluvanna County, Virginia, where Fork Union Military Academy is located and where our day students reside, has seen a total of 225 cases since the beginning of the year, and nearly half of those occurred in two congregate living facilities located in our county. We are fortunate that our day students live in a community that has seen an extremely low risk of community spread of COVID-19. We assess our day students on a daily basis and take steps to mitigate the low level of risk of community spread from our day student population on campus.
However, if we were to open up our campus to visits from parents traveling from areas such as northern Virginia, or Nashville, or Charlotte, we would be bursting that "bubble" we have worked hard to create and increasing the risk that COVID-19 might be brought to our campus from a higher risk region.
We don't yet know what Parents Weekend in October will look like this year. It is entirely possible that many of the events we are used to holding on campus may be held virtually this year. That is still to be determined. At this moment, I would expect that our Parents Weekend will feature virtual online events and is unlikely to involve gatherings of family members on campus. However, we will not make that decision until closer to early October.
I know this is a challenging time for parents, for cadets...and for all of us
These are extraordinary times.
Here at Fork Union Military Academy we are working to succeed at something which so many of our nation's best universities have had difficulty doing in the past few weeks...holding in-person classroom education and keeping the COVID-19 pandemic at bay.
We ask all of our families for your understanding, your patience, and—most of all—your perseverence during this time.
Together, if we keep our prevention and mitigation protocols as a high priority, even when it makes us uncomfortable, we will be able to continue the successful journey we have begun.
The first two weeks are complete. We have another five weeks to go in Term 1. We will continue our journey, careful step by careful step.
Thank you, parents, for the trust you have placed in us by sending us your sons. We are working hard to meet our responsibility to you and your cadet, and we appreciate the support you have shown to our staff and faculty thus far.
Strategic Communications & Marketing
Fork Union Military Academy