USMMA Issues Coronavirus Update #4 - Additional Information on Delayed Return
KINGS POINT, N.Y. (March 13, 2020) –Yesterday, USMMA issued guidance that delays the return of the Regiment of Midshipmen and encourages staff and faculty to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19 by maximizing telework and frequently self-assessing relative health before reporting to the Academy.
Midshipmen have been instructed not to return to the Academy. We hope this delayed return will be resolved soon. USMMA will review and evaluate the health crisis regularly and will contact midshipmen to return when we are confident that is the appropriate course of action. The USMMA Coronavirus Response Team continues to meet regularly to discuss this rapidly-evolving situation, and to consider rapidly-changing information concerning prevention and safety for everyone.
Your health, safety and well-being is our primary concern and we want to ensure faculty, staff and midshipmen have a safe environment to live and learn from at USMMA. To date, there has not been a case of COVID-19 at the Academy, and we continue to encourage our staff, faculty and midshipmen to practice CDC preventive guidance to minimize the spread of the virus:
- Regularly wash your hands often, for 20 seconds or more, with soap and water before eating or touching your eyes, nose, mouth.
- Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing and use a barrier, such as a paper towel or tissue, to touch common surfaces. Also, regularly clean frequently touched surfaces, and choose an alternative to the traditional handshake as a greeting (fist or elbow bump)
- Use a tissue to cough or sneeze into and discard the tissue into a trash receptacle as soon as you can. If you do not have a tissue available, “cover” your cough/sneeze by coughing or sneezing into your flexed elbow
- If soap and water are not available, don’t skip the hand washing… look for, or carry hand sanitizers with you for these occasions.
- Stay away from people that are sick, and when in crowds, maintain a six-foot “social distance,” if able
The Academy remains open during the delay, and we will continue to assess and develop contingencies for operations in the days and weeks ahead. Below are a number of updates and instructions for members of the regiment and the Academy community:
MIDSHIPMEN. Watch your academy email, the official USMMA Social Media pages on Facebook (@USMMAOfficial) and Twitter (@USMMAo), and check the news feed on the Academy website (USMMA.edu) regularly for breaking news and information.
Establish contact by phone or email with the Academy, your Company Officers or your ATRs. In this situation, it is extremely important that you are available and receiving information from your leadership.
This situation is dynamic and changing regularly, so we can’t answer all your questions at the moment, but we will continue to push information to you as it becomes available. Should you have a question or an issue that is not covered in official communications, please reach out to your chain of command directly. If that is not possible or practical for some reason, please contact the Command Duty Officer at O: 516-726-5261, or
For those with Sea Projects coming due, you should have received the following correspondence from the PDCS office:
“This message is to clarify that the sea project collection date will depend on the date the Academy advises you to return. Use the extra time wisely, and submit great projects on your return.”
ONLINE TEACHING. Although we have a number of courses that still require labs or in-person assessment, we are aggressively pursuing alternative teaching methods in the event faculty and staff, or the students are restricted from, or unable to report to the classrooms. Faculty members are currently testing remote teaching methods and technologies. We will share additional information on this as it becomes available.
COVID-19 TESTING. In New York State, testing for COVID-19 is controlled by healthcare practitioners, and is typically used in cases were multiple symptoms are present in at-risk patients. Should a student present with symptoms that are later evaluated at a local hospital as consistent with COVID-19, it will be up to the attending physician to administer a test, if it is available, which is consistent with current practices around the country. We have received some questions about whether testing kits will be available to the Academy medical staff. The answer is: not at this time. Our process is to transport patients to the local hospital where they are evaluated and treated based on local best medical practices.
CAMPUS ACCESS. We are making every effort to maximize a safe and healthy environment for our staff, faculty and midshipmen. That starts with limiting access to the Academy to those that are required to conduct the day-to-day mission requirements at USMMA. We can’t completely control the environment, but we are restricting those allowed on campus in an effort to minimize exposure to the Academy community.
Additionally, we have implemented the following restrictions that apply generally to movements at and around the Academy:
- Scheduled group visits, team movements, and conferences or meetings will be postponed, or canceled for the foreseeable future
2. The museum and the library will be closed to outside visitors
3. Academy travel will be restricted
As a result of these measures, we strongly recommend that families and guests check-in with the Academy before making travel arrangements to visit USMMA during these times.
ATHLETICS. Yesterday, the Academy suspended all spring sport athletic seasons, and recalled all midshipmen from the canceled NCAA winter sport national championship competitions. The athletic department is still in the process of recalling our student-athletes and sending them to their homes of record to await further reporting guidance.
Additionally, in an effort to limit the potential for exposure, the athletic department is largely curtailing recruiting travel for the time being.
During the delay, they will be working closely with the Skyline Conference to determine whether there will be an opportunity to rejoin spring sporting seasons should conditions change.
We continue to urge patience as this situation develops. We are sensitive to the desires and commitment of our student-athletes and we will make every effort to comply with conference and NCAA guidance as it applies to the COVID-19 outbreak and athletic competition.
TELEWORK. We are strongly recommending that employees eligible to telework, make arrangements to formalize that training and certification as soon as possible. Please contact supervisors and Human Resources for more information.
STAFF AND FACULTY. Faculty will report for work, as scheduled, on Monday, March 16.
Important note for staff and faculty: We cannot over-emphasize the requirement to self-monitor and to remain home and seek medical attention from your doctor if you develop symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing), or if you just generally feel sick.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. Finally, we have received a number of questions from interested stakeholders, some about the delayed return, as well as other, more general questions, about the COVID-19 pandemic:
Q. Why did you decide to postpone the return of the midshipmen?
A. We believe that current conditions with respect to COVID-19 are so variable and unpredictable that they preclude us from welcoming the regiment back to the Academy. Once we are more confident in our ability to provide a safe and healthy space for the returning classes, we will reach out and direct the midshipmen to return.
Q. How long will it be before the midshipmen return to the Academy?
A. We hope this delayed return will be resolved soon. USMMA will review and evaluate the health crisis regularly and will contact midshipmen to return when we are confident that is the appropriate course of action.
Q. Can midshipmen come to the Academy to pick up personal items or Sea Year gear?
A. Yes they can. Midshipmen that need to visit the barracks to pick up essential equipment should contact their Company Officer prior to arriving, check in at the front gate upon arrival, pick up their equipment or gear, and depart campus.
Q. What about the cadets that will return from dry-dock with the Kings Pointer?
A. Sea Year cadets aboard the Kings Pointer will remain with the vessel until such time as they have orders to proceed to their next Sea Year assignment, or their Home of Record to await further instructions.
Q. Will this delayed return impact the graduation date for the Class of 2020?
A. At this point, we do not believe so. We may have to modify the current academic schedule somewhat to accommodate for the delay, but we do not anticipate a modification to graduation at this point.
Q. Will this delayed return affect the Classes of 2021, 2022 or 2023?
A. At this point, we do not believe so. We may have to modify the current academic schedule somewhat to accommodate for the delay, but we do not anticipate any change in class academic status.
Q. As a result of this delay, will the Patten Health Clinic hours and staffing be modified to support isolation of symptomatic midshipmen?
A. We are always evaluating staffing levels based on mission requirements and we have the ability to adjust based on those evaluations. We are preparing limited isolation capability within Patten Hall for unforeseen contingencies, but our process is to evacuate symptomatic midshipmen to the local hospital where they can receive care appropriate for their condition, whether it is related to COVID-19 or some other ailment. Should a midshipman need to use the Patten isolation facility, they will receive appropriate support, including food distribution.
Q. Will midshipmen be allowed to pick up food deliveries outside the front gate?
A. We are constantly evaluating the COVID-19 situation and will review this question once we have determined when the midshipmen will return.
Q. Are the academic and living areas being disinfected?
A. We have contract staff that cleans all common spaces on a regular basis. Cleanliness and preventive hygiene is a big part of living in the barracks and learning in the classroom, and we will continue to ensure they are maintained in a high state of cleanliness. In the event of a requirement for additional and more detailed cleaning, we will pursue an appropriate option.
Q. Will the ban on travel from Europe have an impact on Midshipmen?
A. The government recently announced a 30-day ban on travelers entering the U.S. from Europe. We do not currently know the details concerning the ban, or how it might affect midshipmen needing to return from Europe to the States, so it would be premature to comment. Midshipmen affected while on Sea Year-related travel should contact their ATR with questions. Midshipmen affected while on personal travel should contact their Company Officer and keep them informed of their plans.
Thank you for your continued support as we work to maintain a high level of safety, health and transparency in communications during this period of increased vigilance. We will remain in touch.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, located in Kings Point, N.Y, educates and graduates leaders of exemplary character who are inspired to serve the national security, marine transportation, and economic needs of the United States as licensed Merchant Marine Officers and commissioned officers in the Armed Forces. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Academy, which was established under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, as the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1943. It is administered by the Maritime Administration under the auspices of the Department of Transportation.
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