- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 30, 2020

The 1,000 cadets set to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point “have to come back” to the complex to complete medical evaluations and retrieve their belongings, military officials said Thursday, though they ducked questions on whether any cadet who chooses not to return over fears of exposure to COVID-19 will face discipline.

In a press conference at the Pentagon, senior Army leaders said they’ve installed strict protocols to ensure the safety of cadets who return to West Point for the June 13 ceremony. President Trump is slated to speak at the event, but critics argue that the ceremony should be held virtually instead in order to protect the health of the cadets, their families and military personnel at West Point.

But Army officials said Thursday the cadets simply have no choice but to return.

“The cadets have to come back to complete the medical readiness tests. … They must come back to do this,” said Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, West Point superintendent.

Pressed on whether any cadet who does not return to West Point would be disciplined, he would not commit to a firm, across-the-board policy.



“We will take each case separately, case by case. I’m not going to make a blanket statement like that in terms of discipline,” he said.

Army officials said there are several reasons for the mandatory return. In addition to honoring their four years of work at the academy, cadets also have to pick up belongings left there when they exited the base for spring break last month.

West Point has been holding virtual classes since then.

“We have to bring the cadets back to West Point to begin the process of the physicals they need to take and all of the clearance procedures,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said. “They have to come back to the academy. And we do want to conduct a ceremony to celebrate that four-year development process from that hard-earned experience.”

Officials said the cadets will be separated into five cohorts during their time back at West Point. They will eat separately, live separately and not interact with cadets in any other cohort.

Only cadets graduating this year must return, officials said.

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