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COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 Information and Frequently Asked Questions

As health conditions have frequently changed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have adjusted our policies and procedures to address the safety of our cadets and staff.

Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (GaDPH), the Georgia Youth Challenge Program reopened our academies 15-17 August 2020. The decision to reopen was made only after thorough review guidance and best practices from many sources. Our policies and procedures were reviewed by medical and public health professionals with a clear understanding of our residential programs.

We will continue to update this COVID-19 FAQ page as our workgroups update any details regarding how we best operate during this pandemic.

We know that our families, cadets, and staff members need clear answers on what to expect as we continue this class cycle. We continue to work closely with our medical partners to refine our practices so that our cadets and staff remain in our residential instruction program at our campuses located at Fort Stewart and Fort Gordon, as well as the Job Challenge Academy.

We have also developed daily operation protocols to include in-depth contingency plans in the event that a staff member or cadet presents with any symptoms of COVID-19. These protocols will be based on the best available modeling data, along with updated guidance from the CDC and GaDPH.

We thank you for your patience and look forward to sharing more details soon.

This information is provided to you so that you may understand how our organization is managing and monitoring our on-campus operations in this COVID-19 pandemic environment.

Face coverings are a critical step to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with everyday preventive actions and social distancing in public settings. All cadets and staff members are required to wear masks when indoors on campus grounds, with the exception of time for eating or other designated “mask break” that would take place outside.

Please follow these rules from the CDC when wearing a mask:

  • Wash your hands before putting on your face covering
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
  • Make sure you can breathe easily
  • Wear a face covering that covers your nose and mouth to help protect others in case you’re infected with COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms
  • Don’t put the face-covering around your neck or on your forehead
  • Don’t touch the face covering, and, if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect​

How to safely remove a face covering:

  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties
  • Fold outside corners together
  • Place covering in the washing machine (learn more about how to wash cloth face coverings)
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing

Is it okay to wear the same mask daily? Or do cadets, staff & teachers need a different mask each day?

Yesif it is washed and dried after each day. Masks should be laundered on a daily basis (this can be in a sink with soap and water or in a washing machine).

Are masks effective when they get wet?

Masks should be clean and dry.

Gloves Teachers and other staff will not be asked to wear gloves. Cleaning, kitchen and other special staff like Health Care Providers or Occupational Therapists will be asked to wear gloves based on health guidelines.

Cadets will participate in observed handwashing/sanitizing at regular intervals. Campuses will have supplies of hand sanitizer and soap to allow for frequent hand-washing, and classrooms and campus facilities will be disinfected regularly.

Will Personal Protective Equipment be provided for cadets? What about for staff?

GAYCP has purchased masks, face shields, thermometers, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray to help maintain a safe environment in preparations for the reopening our campuses. We’ll make sure campuses receive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), based on key information like the number of cadets enrolled, the number of teaching stations it has, and other details. We will continue to monitor throughout the year to ensure campuses have what they need to maintain a safe environment.

How will we keep the buildings clean and sanitized?

Campus staff and cadets will clean and disinfect nightly and staff will be asked to disinfect desks prior to any new cadets entering the classroom during the day. Staff will frequently clean touched surfaces in campuses at least daily and between use as much as possible. Classroom items that cannot be easily cleaned or sanitized will be removed.

How will bathroom use be different? How will we keep it safe?

All restrooms will be cleaned nightly and high-risk touch points (faucet knobs, flush handles, partition locks, ADA railings) will be disinfected 3 times during the day. Campuses will stagger bathroom breaks to minimize close contact with cadets from another cohort.

Cadets and staff will maintain six feet of social distancing in indoor and outdoor settings as much as possible. To support social distancing efforts, campuses will stagger start and end time times as well as passing periods. Campuses will clearly mark off six-foot spaces for specific areas, such as bathroom lines, dining facilities, barracks, classrooms, etc.

How will social distancing be enforced in large classrooms?

Classrooms will be set up to follow the health and safety guidelines in our approved plan. Classroom seating should be revised to maximize distancing between cadets as much as possible. Desks will be rearranged so that cadets are all facing the same direction and community desks will be removed.


A platoon is defined as a group of cadets who participate in a class or other activity. Our goal is to minimize the number of platoons any one cadet participates in during the day when under YCA supervision. 

  • Class break time will be staggered to avoid large groups.
  • Cadre and Staff will be at their assigned area of responsibility to ensure a smooth flow of traffic for Cadets.
  • Cadets WILL not stop at any other department or platoon while on break. They are to march with their respected platoon to the barracks.
  • Cadre/Staff will ensure that Cadets use social distancing and that the Cadets have a mask or neck gaiter on.
  • If outdoor space is available, allow cadets to take a break from mask wear while socially distanced.
  • Staff will enforce hand washing for all cadets before returning from any breaks.

Physical Training

Physical training activities are essential to a cadet’s growth and overall well being. PT can only happen outside and cadets will be kept in their platoon cohorts. Physical Training (PT) will be staggered to avoid the mixing of cadets. Cadets are allowed to use and share gym equipment with their cohorts and must wear masks.

Will cadets be able to change classes throughout the day? How will that work with a platoon model?

  • Class break time will be staggered to avoid large groups.
  • Cadre and Staff will be at their assigned area of responsibility to ensure a smooth flow of traffic for Cadets.
  • Cadets WILL not stop at any other department or platoon while on break. They are to march with their respective platoon to the barracks.
  • Cadre/Staff will ensure that Cadets use social distancing and that the Cadets have a mask or neck gaiter on.
  • If outdoor space is available, allow cadets to take a break from mask wear while socially distanced.
  • Staff will enforce hand washing for all cadets before returning from any breaks.

Can cadets sit at the same tables and engage with one another?

We will maximize social distancing as much as possible, which includes spacing out desks. Cadets will be able to interact with one another since the current guidance is that the risk of transmission from cadet to cadet or cadet to adult is low.

Do Cadets have to stay 6 feet apart in the classroom?

Physical distancing will be maintained wherever possible. This includes maintaining 6 feet distance in indoor and outdoor settings if possible. When 6 feet of distance is not possible, face-covering (except where doing so would inhibit the individual’s health), hand hygiene, disinfection, and daily symptom checks are required.

What happens if/when cadets need to move to a new classroom?

  • When possible, campuses will prioritize moving teachers, rather than cadets. But sometimes, cadets may need to move to a different learning space, if the classroom they are in does not support the type of learning they need to do. When cadets need to move, campuses will make sure that:
  • The classroom has been cleaned before a new platoon enters. 
  • Note: If the platoon is part of the same exposure group (those who would need to be quarantined if one cadet fell ill), additional cleaning is not necessary.
  • Hallway traffic control guidance is in affect, such as staggered class start/end time times and passing periods. Campuses will have clearly in-building spacing for barracks, dining facility and bathroom/shower spaces.

What happens if a cadet or staff member tests positive?

If a cadet or staff tests positive, the cadet will be required to be picked up by their parents and taken home for 14 days of quarantine. Staff and cadets that are sick will not be permitted to return to campus until they are healthy. We want to minimize the spread of infection and we will continue to follow the guidelines put forth by our partners at the health department.

How often will everyone be tested to ensure they are safe?

All Georgia Youth Challenge employees will report to a designated location/POC before coming onto his/her shift to have their temperature taken and screened for symptoms. If an employee has a fever of 100.4 or higher or indicates symptoms for COVID-19 they will immediately return home, notify their supervisor, and seek medical advice. A staff log will be maintained that records each employee’s time in and any signs or symptoms. All staff members were tested for COVID-19 prior to cadets reporting to campus.

All cadets were required to present a negative COVID-19 test result upon arriving on campus. They were tested upon arrival to campus and will be tested regularly during the cycle. Cadets will have their temperature taken a minimum of twice daily, in the morning and in the evening and those results will be documented in a daily log.

Will cadets with COVID-like symptoms have to present a negative test in order to return to campus?

Yes. Cadets must provide a negative COVID-19 result in order to return to campus after they return to their home and remain in quarantine for fourteen days after known exposure.

  • Cadet is suspected of COVID-19 (Reports symptoms/symptoms observed).
  • Immediately isolate the Cadet from the rest of the platoon.
  • Wait approximately 15 minutes and reevaluate the cadet for symptoms.
  • Have Cadet keep on mask and gloves.
  • Notify Medical Section and Chain of Command.
  • Identify cadets and/or staff that had close contact with symptomatic cadets. Close contact is defined as contactless then 6 feet for more than 15 minutes with the individual for at least 2 days before the onset of symptoms. Immediately quarantine those with close contact. The quarantine will last for 14 days.
  • Conduct initial disinfection of the immediate area with designated cleaning team.
  • The Cadet is moved to Medical Department designated area for further evaluation.  Ensure that the Cadet remains masked and does not touch any doors, windows, etc..
  • Isolation is used to separate sick people from healthy people.
  • Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others.
  • The symptomatic cadet will be assessed by medical providers. Conduct the COVID-19 Test if available. Quarantine until results received or symptoms improve.  If symptoms worsen, seek outside medical care as warranted.
  • Asymptomatic (for 72 hours) or positive COVID-19 tested cadet will be returned to their parent/guardian with advice to contact their medical provider.
  • If cleared, the utilized barracks will be cleaned and sanitized.
  • A counselor will keep the parent/guardian informed.

What if a cadet or teacher has a family member at home with COVID-19?

Anyone who has had direct, close contact with an infected person must be quarantined for 14 days.

Will there be licensed, registered nurses available to monitor the cadets?

Each campus has medical personnel on campus every day who are responsible for medical care of all cadets and are knowledgeable on the procedures for COVID-19 screening for symptoms of the virus.

How will campuses and cadets deal with absences due to the COVID-like symptoms?

If a cadet is found to be COVID-19 positive and is required to be removed from the campus for a quarantine period, course works will be provided and the cadet will be required to maintain contact with their assigned instructors and counselors daily.

What protocols will be in place to trace potential infections?

Our campuses work closely with the local Department of Public Health and has a strong process in place for reporting infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, and will continue to work with those in the health department so that the health department can contact trace as needed to help ensure the health and safety of our staff and cadets are maintained.

Is the GAYC Program preparing back-up plans in case campuses are required to close due to an outbreak?

Yes. We are collaborating with our educators, campus leaders, and health experts to plan for multiple scenarios so that we are prepared and ready to adjust to changing health conditions with minimal learning interruptions.

Limited visitations will be allowed at the academies while under the current COVID-19 conditions.

If an outside visitor is required on campus (i.e. maintenance/repair contractor) the visitor(s) must abide by campus rules and have temperature taken, answer screening questions, and wear a mask at all times. If they have a fever or other symptoms, they will not be allowed on campus and asked to leave immediately.

No Mentors will be allowed to visit Cadets. 

Off-campus medical visits should be for emergency purposes only. Maximize telemedicine procedures to the extent possible. Departure from campus, even under supervised conditions, warrants a negative COVID-19 test for the cadet to return to his/her platoon

  • Breakfast will be served at the times and intervals necessary to meet social distancing requirements. Dining operations will adhere to any guidance and criteria outlined in applicable executive orders and CDC guidelines.
  • Only 1 Platoon per DFAC side at a time. Platoons will know in advance the order of chow.
  • Platoons will stage outside the DFAC in 2 columns with each Cadet 6 feet apart. Before entering, Cadets will wash their hands at the designated area OR the use hand sanitizer.
  • In the case of inclement weather, the Platoons will be standing by their respected barracks and walk-in groups of 10 (in an orderly fashion) to the DFAC to eat.
  • The DFAC will be marked off for Cadets to stand in the appropriate area to receive their meal. They will then proceed to the eating area.
  • Cadets will sit at the table (tables will be marked) with all Cadets facing the same direction with no other Cadets in front of them.
  • Cadets will have 20 minutes to consume their meals. Once they are completed, they will exit the building to the formation while Cadets conduct clean up and sanitize for the next platoon.
  • Cadre will enforce the no talking rule and no sharing of food in the DFAC, and a Cadet will NOT get back up to get something they may have forgotten.