About 380 first-year cadets arrive on Virginia Tech’s campus today, Aug. 15, for their New Cadet Week introduction to the corps and training from upper-class cadets, but cadet activities will look different this time around.
The week will culminate with a parade at 10 a.m. Aug. 22 on the Drillfield, the final piece of the first-year cadets’ training in military drill. During the parade, the Highty-Tighties, the regimental band, will play and Skipper, the Corps of Cadets cannon, will be fired.
Spectators will be asked to wear masks and practice the appropriate physical distancing.
With the priority on keeping the cadets safe and healthy, the new cadets will follow university requirements for COVID testing and limited contact for 48 hours as well as the Community Wellness Commitment and public health guidelines.
They will wear face masks and practice physical distancing and frequent handwashing. They also will modify their marching and military drill to stay 6 feet apart – double arm interval, in military speak — whenever possible.
Cadet leaders acknowledge that it will take discipline and a willingness to change routines, but that both are critical to mitigate the health risks of COVID-19 and help keep the larger Hokie community safe.
“It is imperative that we are taking care of each other, being smart, and most importantly, being responsible,” said Regimental Commander Mame Ngom, a senior in Air Force ROTC majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
“What I want everyone to understand is that there are going to be many differences in how our fall semester looks,” said Vincent Stevens, a senior in Air Force ROTC majoring in computer science in the College of Engineering and commander of the corps’ Second Battalion.
“But,” Stevens said, “There are still going to be many aspects of our college experience that are the same and worth returning for: the leadership training we will get in the corps, our learning opportunities through the university and our friends nationwide that are returning for the same reasons we are.
“All we are doing is learning how to operate in a way that lowers the risk for these friends, their families and the greater Blacksburg community.”