Air Force trainee Chris-Ann Wilmoth participates in a physical training session at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., July 1, 2020.

Air Force trainee Chris-Ann Wilmoth participates in a physical training session at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., July 1, 2020. (Kemberly Groue/U.S. Air Force)

The Air Force said Tuesday it was yet again postponing physical fitness assessments for airmen due to the coronavirus pandemic, this time until the beginning of 2021.

In May, the service notified airmen that the tests were being suspended until Oct. 1. The start date has now been pushed back to Jan. 1, the Air Force said in a statement.

Airmen typically take the test once or twice a year. Those who earn a top rating are only required to test annually.

“To continue minimizing close contact among personnel during the ongoing [coronavirus] pandemic and ensure units and personnel are fully ready to resume, testing has been delayed from October to January, and testing in January will move forward without obtaining waist, height and weight measurements,” the statement said.

Come the new year, uniformed personnel will be expected to test on the 1 ½-mile run, 1 minute of push-ups and 1 minute of sit-ups.

Waist, height and weight measurements remain postponed until further notice, the statement said.

All airmen will receive maximum points for the so-called “abdominal circumference” component as part of their official score, including those with exemptions to that waist measurement, the statement said.

“We know people are staying fit regardless, but we want to give our Airmen enough time to prepare,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said in the statement.

Commanders may delay fitness assessments beyond Jan. 1 based on factors such as recommendations of local public health officials, continuation of closed fitness centers and extended statewide restriction of movement and gatherings, the statement said.

“This is an unprecedented situation and we’ve put a lot of work into assessing how and when we could safely resume fitness testing across the force,” Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said in the statement.

He said airmen have been juggling work, child-care access, homeschooling and family separations that have impacted maintaining fitness.

“This delay gives our folks extra time to prepare for January, while also ensuring units have more time to implement additional COVID precautions,” Kelly said.

Fitness assessment due dates in 2021 will depend largely on date and score of the last official test and can be determined by visiting the Official Physical Assessment Due Date Matrix on myPers, the statement said.

The Air Force is using the hiatus on measuring waist size to scrutinize its role in the service’s fitness culture, Kelly said.

“We’re in discussion with our medical counterparts to determine the right place for the waist measurement, whether it be part of an annual health assessment or elsewhere,” he said.

In April, the Marine Corps canceled all fitness tests for the remainder of the year. The Navy did likewise in July. Twitter: @WyattWOlson

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Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.

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