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Naval Academy puts restrictions on midshipmen after an uptick in COVID cases

By THE CAPITAL, ANNAPOLIS, MD. Published: March 1, 2021

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — The U.S. Naval Academy announced Sunday it is restricting movement of the Brigade of Midshipmen and returning classes to remote learning, as there has been an uptick in positive cases.

All sports practices and events are suspended, with the exception of varsity men's basketball.

The measures went into effective Sunday and will be in place for a minimum of 10 days while the academy continues to asses the situation daily, a press release said. The release did not state the number of cases at the academy.

Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck and other Naval Academy leadership addressed the midshipmen virtually Sunday, announcing a return to a full restriction of movement. All meals will be consumed in dorm rooms, and midshipmen will be permitted a maximum of two hours of outdoor physical activity daily with a maximum of one roommate, the release states.

All midshipmen identified as close contacts will receive daily antigen tests, and they will continue to wear masks and social distance. The academy said midshipmen who are staying with sponsors and commuting to campus this semester have a very low rate of positive cases and "are highly unlikely to be a source of COVID for the brigade."

The men's basketball team, which earned the No. 1 seed with a win over Loyola Maryland on Sunday, will be allowed to participate in the Patriot League tournament starting Saturday because the team has been isolated from the rest of the Brigade of Midshipmen since last week.

The Navy women's basketball team on Friday had their weekend series against Loyola canceled due to COVID-related issues, and will not participate in the Patriot League tournament due to a positive COVID-19 test within the program. The positive test occurred before they were able to be isolated, the release said. The Mids, who had 14 games affected by the virus, finish their season 5-7 overall and 5-3 in the league.

"While our midshipman population is young and healthy, and likely able to rebound from COVID-19, there are still too many unknowns with COVID-19 to take this situation lightly. The health and safety of our entire Naval Academy family is, and will remain, my highest priority while we continue to execute our mission of developing our future naval leaders," Buck said.

The Naval Academy and Navel Support Activity Annapolis are closed to all public visitation and are in an HPCON Charlie status.

"We need this to be an all-hands effort from our faculty, staff, coaches ... this is not just a midshipman effort," said Buck. "Additionally, those who may have approved credentials to access the Yard — such as sponsors, parents, active/Reserve/retired military — shall refrain from visiting the Naval Academy, even to drop off deliveries, at this time in order to minimize the spread of this virus."

For more information on the restrictions, visit https://www.usna.edu/COVID-19.

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