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Naval Academy allows upperclass midshipmen to start returning at the end of July; fall classes will begin online

First and second class midshipmen at the Naval Academy will be allowed to return to the Yard at the end of July, beginning a staggered approach the entire Brigade’s return.

Naval Academy spokeswoman Cmdr. Alana Garas said Friday first and second class midshipmen are expected to begin to return on or about July 20. Due to the staggered return, instruction will be offered online when the fall semester begins until midshipmen are able to complete Reform of Brigade, which is scheduled for mid-August.

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They are still determining details on the fall semester academic schedule, Garas said.

As midshipmen return to the campus, they will be tested for coronavirus, then their movement will be restricted for 14 days and they will be tested again, similar to how the plebes arrived for Induction Day in June.

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After the Reform of the Brigade, the academy plans to deliver academic instruction in-person and online through the fall semester. In classes, midshipmen will be spaced six feet apart and will remain masked. In the halls, everyone is expected to be masked between class changes if six feet distance is not possible, Garas said.

The plan is in response to state and federal public health guidance in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Garas said the academy anticipates it will be able to provide more detailed information as the Reform of the Brigade gets closer.

“Regarding the return of the Brigade, USNA is committed to protecting the health of our force,” Garas said. “We have been and will remain in close coordination with state and federal public health authorities to ensure the well-being of our personnel and local population.”

Commandant Capt. Thomas Buchanan said tents will soon be popping up on the grounds of the Naval Academy. The academy will use them to expand the eating space around King Hall, he said in a video on social media Wednesday.

Also, Plebe Parents Weekend, which was scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 9 through 13, has been indefinitely postponed, a letter sent Friday to Class of 2024 parents and families said.

“After thorough consideration and consultation with my entire leadership team, including USNA’s health professionals, I believe this is a necessary decision in order to safeguard the health and welfare of the entire Naval Academy family and local community,” Superintendent Sean S. Buck said in the letter.

“While you won’t be able to be with them in person, we will ensure your plebe is provided extra time the weekend of August 8th to communicate virtually with you,” he said.

Reporter Heather Mongilio contributed to this article.

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