Message from the President

(December 15, 2020)

To the Academy Community,

Due to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts and throughout our nation and given the expectation that this surge will continue into early January, the following program changes are hereby implemented.

1. The January 2021 TS Kennedy alongside program planned for our Marine Transportation and our Marine Engineering cadets is cancelled. Please know that I do not take this action lightly. That said, the cancellation is expected to have an extremely limited negative impact on "sea days" for graduating seniors as the USCG has approved several allowances for our cadets to accrue sea-time such as additional simulator time, additional time for prior commercial shipping and additional time for watchkeeping & maintenance. Winter term Co-ops and Commercial Shipping programs not otherwise cancelled by the sponsoring organization remain as is.

2. On a case by case basis, we will consider requests from the respective academic department chairs to conduct in-person assessments in the last week of January or the first week of February (similar to what we did last June). Such requests will need to be approved by Academic Affairs, the Office of Mariner Credentialing and the Academy's Medical Department and will be limited in scope. Notice on these actions will be sent to affected cadets in early/mid January.

3. The Spring 2021 academic semester currently remains as planned and on schedule to begin on 8 February 2021. Dorm rooms will be double-occupancy. The roommate selection process and specific return requirements will be promulgated by the Commandant's Office in the near future. The previously published exemptions from on-campus housing remain in effect.

It is important to note that the Academy will consider modifying the current spring semester plan based on the latest science and data available on or about mid-January 2021. The current plan may be "rolled back" to include a deeply de-densified campus or, as a worse case scenario, a fully remote semester. The following benchmarks will be strongly considered as part of our "roll back" decision process.

- Current plan remains a "go" if:

COVID cases in Massachusetts average <3,500/day and MA 7-day positivity rate is <3.5% and the trend is flat or declining.

- Current plan will be modified to prioritize on campus work for lab-based programs that do not have viable online delivery alternatives if:

COVID cases in Massachusetts average >3500/day but <6500/day and MA positivity rate is >3.5% but <6.5% and the trend is flat or declining.

- The Academy will consider beginning the semester in a fully remote mode (and adjust when conditions allow) if:

COVID cases in Massachusetts average >6500 and/or positivity rate is >6.5%.

By publishing these benchmarks, we seek to be transparent in our decision making as we continue to live by the 4 overarching objectives which we established last March; the safety of our cadets, faculty, staff & families; to limit community spread; to get our seniors to graduate on time; to limit the academic disruption to the underclass.

RADM McDonald
Francis McDonald, LPD
Rear Admiral, USMS