Rucker elementary set for virtual classes after holidays

Maj. Gen. Francis, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. James Wilson address a post holiday plan of action

A plan for the elementary school on Fort Rucker following the Christmas holidays has been announced.

In a virtual news conference held at the Army Aviation Museum on Fort Rucker Nov 24, Maj. Gen. David Francis addressed holiday block leave, future general orders and the plan for after the holidays.

Francis is the United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general. He and Aviation Branch Command Sgt. Maj. James Wilson held the news conference in advance of the holiday block leave which begins Dec. 19 and ends Jan. 3.

The Fort Rucker Command Team has held virtual news conferences since April 2 to disseminate information to the public about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on policies at the Home of Army Aviation.

In a series of General Orders tailored to the ever changing current pandemic statistics Francis has outlined precautionary preventive policies for soldiers regarding on and off post activities.

“COVID 19 is surging around the country but we are setting the stage for you to enjoy the holidays with family and friends,” Francis said Nov. 24. “Our priorities have not changed and will remain in effect— Number 1 is to protect our people, Number 2 is to protect our mission and Number 3 is to protect our local community.

“The ‘way forward’ comes in three phases,” Francis explained. “In Phase 1 we will issue General Order Number 7—on or about Dec. 11— that will govern holiday block leave. We will announce when this goes into effect.

“Phase 2 begins at the completion of block leave Jan. 3,” Francis said. “Fort Rucker will go to Health Protection Condition Charlie and General Order Number 8.

“These two actions will restrict movement and cause our Fort Rucker elementary school to go to remote learning for two weeks,” he said.

“We will do seven to 14-day remote monitoring and telework where appropriate during this time,” he said about the office buildings on post. “These actions will allow us to assess COVID conditions as we return from block leave and contain any cases we might encounter.

“Essentially we want to reestablish the ‘training bubble’ to execute training safely,” he stressed.

Phase 3 includes issuance of General Order Number 9 “once we know we are stable,” Francis said. “This decision will be based on a continual assessment of the conditions in our local area.”

“I ask you to remember that COVID is a real threat,” Wilson said. “Especially to our high risk population. We can mitigate the risk by following the fundamentals: Wear your mask, wash your hands and social distance.

“Be smart, be disciplined and return to duty ready and healthy,” he added.

Francis agreed. “Team, you’ve all worked very hard and we want you to have a safe and happy holiday,” he said. “This has been a challenging year, but we have much to be thankful for. We are thankful for all of you at Fort Rucker and our local community.”

Each General Order has reiterated the purpose of all the orders: “To protect the force, families, the mission and our local communities by restricting movement and personal contact to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

While family members, Department of the Army civilians and contractors are “requested and strongly encouraged” to abide by the restrictions imposed on military personnel, “failure to abide by this request may result in denial of access to the installation.”

Fort Rucker’s face mask policy requires people to wear face coverings at all off-post and on-post nonresidential facilities, regardless of social distancing.

Daily status updates on operations and services on Fort Rucker are available on the post’s website and social media page. The newest updates are highlighted in red type.

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