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Virginia Military Institute prepares for Fall

Military lifestyle can't be taught remotely
Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 4:48 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - Matriculation at the Virginia Military Institute normally involves busy crowds of new cadets arriving to meet professors and sign up for classes and majors before being turned over to the cadre for some sharp instruction in the military way of life.

But this is the year of COVID.

“Obviously, we’re dealing with the same challenges most schools are in terms of the classroom, but on top of that we have the military experience,” said Col. Bill Wyatt, VMI’s director of communications and marketing.

Which means that remote learning isn’t an option. So while parades may not look exactly like they usually do, all 1,500 cadets will be in the barracks by the end of August.

And that takes some preparation and planning.

“Our planning document is 190 pages,” Wyatt said. “I’ve looked at other schools that are 30 and 40 pages, and just kind of chuckled.”

They’ll scale down activities to smaller groups, like going from one big serving to several smaller ones at meal time, and treating the occupants of the traditionally close barracks rooms as family groups.

“Things will be very different here in the fall,” Wyatt said. “Obviously, the outward signs, you’ll see face masks as part of the uniform, but also parades and public events, if we’re able to have them, will look very different that they have before.”

With hopes that the New Market parade next May will be more like they have been in the past.

“Our job is to ensure that we’re training leaders of tomorrow and citizen soldiers,” Wyatt said. “And we’re going to do the best that we can in the environment that we have right now.”

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