Editor’s Note: The following article about coronavirus basic training changes will be continually updated as new information is released. Make sure to bookmark this page and check back frequently for updates.
This article was last updated on May 19, 2020
In recent months, the novel Coronavirus, formally known as Covid-19, has begun spreading rapidly throughout communities around the world, and the U.S. military has already begun taking proactive steps aimed at curbing the spread of the infection among service members and their families.
It’s important to note that service members are often not a high-risk demographic even if and when they may be infected by Covid-19. The virus, however, can be dangerous to people with underlying health issues or otherwise compromised immune systems living in the surrounding community. The Pentagon also hopes to minimize the affect Covid-19 has on the military’s overall readiness–which means it’s better to stem the tide of infection than to keep recovering service members in isolation as they rebound from the virus. As a result, making every effort to mitigate the spread of this virus has been deemed a worthwhile enterprise.
The Pentagon has already issued guidance to service members and their families oriented toward protecting themselves from infection and curbing the spread of infection among those who get sick. These practices are not dissimilar from the guidance being provided to the general public through public institutions like the Center for Disease Control.
You can jump directly to coronavirus basic training changes for your specific branch with these links.
The Pentagon’s guidance for preventing the spread of the coronavirus:
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-percent alcohol
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
What else is the military doing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus?
According to a DoD statement issued on March 9, the military’s response to the Coronavirus can be summed up in three objectives:
- Protecting service members and their families
- Ensuring crucial DoD missions continue
- Supporting the whole go government approach to the unfolding situation
A number of military commands have already initiated what the Defense Department refers to as “pandemic procedures,” which are a series of pre-planned protocols put into place to rapidly identify service members who may have been exposed to the virus and isolating them from the general and service populations. These patients are treated by military medical personnel with appropriate protective equipment, and are re-evaluated on a day by day basis.
Every military branch is also screening all new recruits and trainees for signs of infection, and isolating any who may have been exposed to the virus or may be exhibiting symptoms of infection. The goal of these tests is not to stop new service members from entering into training, but rather to postpone training until after the recruit or trainee recovers completely and is no longer able to spread the virus to others.
Marine Corps Coronavirus Basic Training Changes
MCRD Parris Island
MCRD Parris Island Has added a 14-day staging period to its training cycle in order to more effectively screen incoming recruits for COVID-19 infection. Recruits awaiting the start of training will be isolated at the Citadel until their quarantine period ends.
The Marine Corps has authorized the families of some recruits to mail them their personal cell phones to be used upon completion of the Crucible, as directed by the MCRD Parris Island page. These new Marines will not have continuous access to their phones, but will be given access to them at specific times.
The Marine Corps has requested that families not send phones to any other recruits yet. They will announce when other companies are authorized access to their phones upon completion of the Crucible.
You can read their full statement below:
MCRD Parris Island has announced that family day and graduation ceremonies aboard the depot are canceled. This includes the remainder of today’s family day activities and tomorrow’s graduation ceremony.
Liberty now ends at 13:30 hours today.
All further graduation events are canceled until further notice. You can read the full statement below:
Parris Island has released this message pertaining to prevention efforts:
MCRD San Diego
*Updated March 16
MCRD San Diego has announced that the standard 10-day leave period granted to graduating Marines upon their completion of recruit training has been suspended. New Marines will now be transported directly to the School of Infantry for combat training, in order to limit exposure to the public.
“In accordance with the direction from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the standard 10 day leave period granted to new Marines after graduation has been suspended to limit the new Marines exposure to COVID-19. This order is to protect Marines, their families, Civilian Marines, and families from further exposure to COVID-19. Following graduation at MCRD San Diego, all new Marines will immediately report to the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton where they will begin the next phase of their training. Upon completion of that training they will continue onto their next unit or additional formal schooling as required. This suspension of leave will continue for the foreseeable future, and could be extended past May 11, 2020. Marines currently on leave will report to the School of Infanty on schedule.”
You can read their full statement below:
MCRD San Diego has also announced that all family day events and graduation ceremonies will bar guest attendance until further notice.
Marines will be authorized to depart MCRD San Diego via commercial travel or with their families tomorrow, who will be able to meet them upon their departure.
You can read the full statement below:
Army Coronavirus Basic Training Changes
*Updated April 23
The Army has opted to delay sending new trainees to basic training temporarily while they put no safety measures in place intended to help protect trainees from infection.
You can read the Army’s statement below:
Those who are currently in BCT and Advanced Individual Training will continue training under the screening and monitoring guidelines established last month and will proceed to their next assignments upon graduation.
This tactical pause will allow commands to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place and are operating effectively at training installations.
“The decision to pause the shipment of trainees to BCT for two weeks will allow leaders to focus on setting conditions so movement can be conducted in a safe manner in the future,” said Gen. Paul E. Funk, II, commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
The two-week pause in shipping will not impact current Future Soldiers’ ability to join the Army, according to Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, commanding general for U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
Fort Benning has announced that they have canceled attendance at all graduation ceremonies and family day events until further notice. Graduation ceremonies will be live streamed on the Facebook pages for graduating companies.
You can read the full Fort Benning statement below:
Fort Sill has announced that beginning March 16, they will suspend attendance at graduation ceremonies until further notice.
Ceremonies will be live streamed for families and supporters on the Fort Sill Facebook page. This is a developing situation with more details to come.
You can read Fort Sill’s full announcement below:
You can watch Fort Sill’s livestream here.
Fort Leonard Wood
Fort Leonard Wood has announced that attendance at Basic Training family day and graduations will be suspended until further notice after this week. Families and supporters will be able to watch the graduation ceremonies on Facebook Live on the Fort Leonard Wood Facebook page.
Family Day activities on Fort Jackson have been canceled going forward, and soldiers will be allowed to make supervised visits to AAFES activities and to make purchases to prepare them for travel to their next appointed place of duty. No travel with family members in their personal vehicles will be permitted after 1-34 IN BN graduates this week.
You can read the full post from Fort Jackson below:
Fort Jackson has announced that all family day and graduation events have been canceled until further notice. No travel in private vehicles with family will be permitted after this week’s graduation.
You can read Fort Jackson’s full statement below:
Air Force Coronavirus Basic Training Changes
**UPDATED April 7**
The U.S. Air Force has announced that it will cut Basic Military Training from eight and a half weeks to seven, in order to allow for enhanced social distancing. Recruit accessions will also be adjusted to allow for the same.
You can read the Air Force’s full statement below:
To fully maximize training effectiveness and space utilization to mitigate COVID-19, the USAF Basic Military Training will accelerate Basic Military Training (BMT) from eight and half weeks to seven weeks of training according to Col Newsom, the Commander of Basic Military Training. This will allow BMT to restructure enhancing social distancing requirements across the training campus to ensure the safety and security not just for our trainees, but for our Military Training Instructors, other Active Duty members, civilians and contractors that support our mission.
Also, there will be rescheduling of recruit accessions to maintain social distancing mitigation efforts. At heart, we are innovating how we train our Airmen in order to meet the national security needs of our nation. Therefore, all trainees in the BMT pipeline will graduate one week earlier than scheduled and ship directly the next day to their Technical Training assignment. All graduations will continue to be live streamed.
The Air Force has announced that it has suspended family members from attending Basic Military Training graduations, effective immediately and until further notice.
Air Force Basic Military Training graduation ceremonies will be live streamed via 37th Training Wing’s Facebook page every Friday beginning March 13 at 9 a.m.
You can find the steam here.
You can read the Air Force’s complete statement below:
In an effort to minimize the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 and to prioritize the health and safety of Department of the Air Force personnel, the following modifications have been made:
• At the United States Air Force Academy, official travel outside of the United States has been restricted for cadets, cadet candidates and permanent party. Personal/leisure travel to countries with a CDC Level 2 or higher rating is also prohibited. As of now, restrictions will remain in place through the end of March.
• Air Force Basic Military Training has suspended family members from attending graduation until further notice.
• Since South by Southwest events in Austin, Texas, was cancelled, the Air Force’s Spark Collider and Pitch Bowl will now take place virtually, March 12.
• The Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado Child Development Center has been closed for cleaning since a parent (family member) tested positive by the state for coronavirus.
• All Department of the Air Force personnel have been directed to follow Center for Disease Control levels for travel guidance.
The Air Force maintains an actively updated page with frequently asked questions here.
Navy Coronavirus Basic Training Changes
*Updated March 19
The U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command has announced that they are suspending all large scale graduation ceremonies for both their Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes and Officer Training in Newport, RI.
These sailors will still go through training, but large graduation events will not be held, nor will they be live streamed. You can read the Navy’s full statement below:
Effective immediately, the U.S. Navy is suspending all Recruit Training Command (RTC), in Great Lakes, IL, and Officer Training Command (OTC), in Newport RI, formal, large-scale graduation ceremonies until further notice as part of its proactive approach to protect our mission and limit the potential spread of COVID 19.
Recruits, Officer Candidates and students will continue to graduate, but the transition from Recruit or Officer Candidate to Sailor will be marked by small, internal events which cannot be live-streamed.
This decision was made after considering recommendations from CDC and medical professionals, to support the well-being of our students and staff, and to maintain our mission essential function of providing basically trained Sailors to the fleet.
While graduation is an important symbolic event for Sailors and their families, it is not essential for training, and in light of concerns in gathering large groups of individuals together, it would be inappropriate to continue the ceremony at this time. We will continue to closely monitor the situation, and will resume graduations and guest attendance as soon as it is safe to do so.
Coast Guard Coronavirus Basic Training Changes
*Updated April 1
Training Center Cape May has announced changes to their graduation schedule as a result of their response to Covid-19.
- Lima 198 is graduating on 4/3 as scheduled
- Mike 198 is graduating 4/8 (originally scheduled for 4/17)
- November 198 is graduating 4/15 (originally scheduled for 4/24)
- Oscar 198 is graduating 4/22 (originally scheduled for 5/8)
You can read the full Coast Guard statement below:
Training Center Cape May has posted new updates regarding transfers out of Basic Training and where you can stream graduation ceremonies. You can read their full statement below:
Training Center Cape May will not receive any new recruits until 7 April. Entry onto the installation is now limited to mission essential personnel.
You can read the full Coast Guard statement below:
The U.S. Coast Guard has announced that it is suspending guest attendance at graduation ceremonies effective immediately. The suspension includes other events related to graduation, including Family Meet and Greets on Thursdays and Family Breakfasts on Fridays.
Recruits impacted by this change will be given the opportunity to call home to inform their loved ones of the new policy.
Graduations will continue, however, and can be viewed on the Coast Guard’s livestream here.
You can read the Coast Guard’s full statement below: