In January 2021, cadets’ return to post after the Christmas furlough looked much different than it ever had in years past. They had been off post since before Thanksgiving due to the coronavirus pandemic.
To increase the safety of the VMI community and that of the local community, cadet return was stretched out over a six-day period, and all cadets were tested for COVID-19 via the rapid antigen test upon arrival. In addition, cadets were asked to self-quarantine for 14 days before their assigned return to post.
Cadets testing negative were allowed to report to barracks to begin the check-in process. Cadets testing positive were required to report to isolation. Any cadet testing positive at the VMI Infirmary Oct. 20 or later was not required to be tested; likewise, cadets testing positive on that date or later at an off-post facility could skip the return-to-post testing by providing a copy of their test results.
For the entire return period, Jan. 12 to Jan. 19, the Marshall Hall parking lot was closed so it could be used as a reception and testing area for cadets. First to arrive on post were members of the regimental staff, cadet EMTs, and guard team Jan. 12. The next two days were set aside for the arrival of members of select athletic teams, including but not limited to the football, basketball, lacrosse, and track and field teams.
On Jan. 17, members of each company’s cadre arrived, plus rats and cadets being readmitted. The next day saw the arrival of 1st Class cadets, members of the battalion and regimental staffs, and Band Company. All other cadets arrived Jan. 19.
Parents were not allowed into barracks at any point during the return process, and the VMI Bookstore was only open to cadets needing to buy books and other supplies for the semester.
Wednesday, Jan. 20, would normally have been a day set aside for cadets to march in the inaugural parade for President Joe Biden. Even with no parade this year, cadets were given the day off from classes. Classes began Thursday, Jan. 21.
As currently scheduled, the semester ahead looks unlike spring semesters in past years, with no spring furlough or Easter break. Spring field training exercises are set for April 9-13. Graduation week activities are tentatively set for May 14-16.
This semester has brought with it, though, an increase in the percentage of classes being offered in person. For spring 2021, 64% of classes are being offered in-person, with 22% hybrid and 14% online. During the fall semester, 44% of courses were offered in person, with 34% hybrid and 22% online.
As was the case during the fall semester, many facilities on post, including most athletic buildings, Preston Library, and the VMI Museum, remain closed to the general public. The Stonewall Jackson House is currently closed for the winter, with reopening set for March 1. The New Market Battlefield and the Virginia Museum of the Civil War are open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Mary Price VMI Communications & Marketing