May 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army will not send 10,000 ROTC cadets to Fort Knox, Ky., for its annual Cadet Summer Training exercises because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement on Tuesday came 12 days before the Reserve Officer Training Corps members were to arrive at Fort Knox for training aimed at preparing them to shift from college students to Army officers.
Army analysts spent weeks considering how to safely move the cadets from over 900 school campuses to the base and back, in light of the pandemic, and chose not to risk their exposure to the virus.
"We were concerned that if the worst were to happen, we might send out a large group of cadets that might be carrying the infection -- they may even be asymptomatic -- back out into their college populations," Maj. Gen. John Evans, chief of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, said on Tuesday. "We felt that risk was just too great."
Cadets generally attend the camp, which assesses their preparedness, fitness and weapons proficiency, between their junior and senior years of college.
Required training exercises will be expanded during the upcoming school year. An annual 48-hour field training event, typically performed in a weekend, will be expanded to 96 hours over a four-day weekend, for example, and additional on-campus ROTC instruction will be made available.
Evans said that his command has reached out to affected colleges, seeking leniency for cadets who will miss class time.
"I've asked our cadets to stay the course with their academic curriculum and their ROTC requirements," Evans added. "Success of this plan will require individual focus and effort to make it work. It won't always be easy, we will ask much of them over the next year, but the reward will be worth the effort."