Returning to Campus

This page contains information about Valley Forge Military Academy and College’s efforts to plan for a safe and thoughtful return to our campus in July/August 2020. Reopening our institution in a healthful manner is critical to advancing our tradition of producing the next generation of leaders.

While it is impossible to eliminate all risks, we are working diligently to reduce risks by taking reasonable and thoughtful precautions.  These measures will include adjustments to our school calendar, new health protocols, reduced density in the classrooms, changes to our dining procedures, the ability to switch between in-person and online learning seamlessly as needed, and more. 

The Academy and College’s Health & Safety Plans are in their final stages of development. As soon as they are available, we will notify you and post them on this website. Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Please be aware that this is a “living” document and we will adjust our plans based on guidance provided at any time as necessary, prudent and based on what is reasonable and feasible.  There are still many unanswered questions and we will provide additional information as we receive it from the various governing entities.

We will continue to update this page and the documents within to accommodate new information about COVID-19, vaccines, and other factors.

Campus Reopening FAQs

Does VFMAC have a plan to re-open campus in Fall 2020?

Be assured we have been working diligently on our VFMAC 2020-2021 Health & Safety Plan for both the Academy and College.  Due to all the factors and information needed to plan as COVID-19 issues unfold, the comprehensive Health & Safety Plans will be released as soon as they have been approved by our Board of Trustees and submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, likely within the next few weeks. 

The school’s resumption and continuation of in-person operations will hinge on the entire community observing a wide range of public health measures to ensure everyone’s health and safety, including physical distancing, face coverings, frequent hand washing, and personal health monitoring.

What measures will be in place to ensure everyone’s health and safety when they return to campus?

Everyone on campus will be expected to adhere to four important pillars of public health: use of face coverings, frequent hand washing, physical distancing, and personal health monitoring. Details on each pillar are below.

  • Face coverings: Everyone must wear a face covering in buildings, where physical distancing cannot be guaranteed, and in public settings. Masks will be issued to each cadet upon arrival.

  • Frequent hand washing and etiquette: In addition to encouraging our community members to wash their hands frequently, hand sanitizer stations are located throughout campus, along with reminders of good hygiene practices and social distancing. Simple hygiene techniques make a big difference. Sneeze in the elbow; DO NOT touch the face, eyes or nose.

  • Social distancing:  Reminders will be affixed on floors and walls of campus buildings to ensure that everyone remains at a safe distance from others when on-campus operations resume. Classrooms and other common spaces will have similar distancing requirements. We are taking appropriate steps now to rearrange spaces to create appropriate distance between cadets and staff.

  • Personal health monitoring: Cadets and employees will have daily checks (am and pm) for fever as well as other COVID-19 symptoms, and, if warranted, seek medical care through their primary care physician or the Health Center.
Is VFMAC following a phased approach to reopening campus to cadets?
Yes. Cadets return to campus will be staggered, similar to our normal procedure and the approach used by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during COVID-19. There will be several arrival dates for cadets and staff throughout the summer. This will allow individuals to arrive to campus in a regulated fashion. As part of this effort, new protocols are being put into place for cleaning and sanitizing buildings. This will allow time to test and monitor cadets in small groups to reduce cadet contact.
What other governing bodies may influence VFMAC’s return and continuity planning?
VFMAC will follow the guidance and restrictions put in place by local, state and federal governments. We will also continue to follow and comply with guidance issued by public health agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What if the public health situation significantly improves or worsens?
VFMAC remains committed to carefully monitoring and responding to new information about COVID-19 and its impacts. In developing the various return and continuity scenarios, it is understood that our plans must be flexible and include contingencies for changing conditions over time. We are prepared to deviate from outlined plans in order to take swift actions to keep our community safe. The Health and Safety Plans are developed to allow many scenarios to include improvement and worsening scenarios.

General FAQs

What are the important dates for the 2020-2021 academic year?
Here are the critical dates we can share at this time:

  • July 22 and 23: Returning Army ROTC Early Commissioning Program (ECP) Cadets Arrive
  • August 5 and 6: All New Cadets participating in the Army ROTC Early Commissioning Program (ECP) Arrive
  • August 14: Academy and College Leadership Detail Arrive (invitation only)
  • August 22: Academy and College Plebes and All International Cadets Arrive
  • August 27: Academy Cadets Taking College Classes and Returning College Cadets Arrive 
  • August 31: First Day of College Classes
  • September 1: Returning Academy Cadets Arrive
  • September 7 (Labor Day): No Classes for College
  • September 10: First Day of Academy Classes
  • November 24: College Cadets Depart Campus and Complete Semester Online
  • December 7-12: College Finals
  • December 18: Academy Cadets Depart for Winter Break

NOTE: Arrival dates and return procedures for Mid-Year will be communicated at a later date but no later than their departure from campus in the Fall.

What should cadets do to prepare for their arrival on campus?
We ask that each cadet spend 14 days in quarantine PRIOR to arriving at VFMAC, if possible. During quarantine, students should monitor their symptoms and take their temperature twice per day, avoid contact with others outside of the household, not use public transportation, and maintain proper physical distancing from others (six feet/two meters).
How/when will cadets move into their barracks rooms?
To provide a smooth transition to campus, VFMAC will have staggered arrival dates, similar to the way any school year starts. Please see designated dates above.
Will parents be allowed on campus to help move items into the barracks?
To limit exposure to the campus community, parents will not be permitted on campus to help their child move into their barracks.

There will be a designated area on campus, likely the General Lot/Field House area, for you to drop off your cadet and their belongings. Everyone will be required to wear a face covering while on campus. More detailed instructions will be provided at a later date.

Will cadets be tested for COVID-19?
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Families will be invoiced through the Business Office for the COVID-19 test(s) $100 for the initial screening per semester.  Due to the contract with Quest Labs, a statement will be provided. You will need to submit paperwork to your insurance for reimbursement. At this time, we plan to test your cadet upon their return in the fall and at mid-year. This may be subject to change based on CDC guidelines and vaccine availability.

What if my child is already medically compromised?

If your child is medically compromised, please contact the Health Center PRIOR to reporting to campus in order to review medical considerations and any special precautions that must be taken. Please contact the Health Center at 610-989-1518.

What if I cannot make it back to campus by my designated date?
To ensure the safety of all of our students, faculty and staff, it is important for your child to arrive on campus on their designated date of arrival, noted above. Questions/concerns regarding missing this date must be addressed to the Commandant’s Office.
Once cadets are on campus, what type of health monitoring will there be?

All cadets will be assessed twice daily (am and pm) for temperature and symptoms. As noted above, COVID-19 testing will take place on the fifth day after arrival to campus. Those with negative results will be removed from quarantine. We will follow CDC guidelines for isolation for positive results. Parents will be asked to take their child home to recuperate. A note from the doctor will be required to return to campus post-positive COVID-19 isolation and treatment.

How will physical distancing be practiced in classrooms?
Classrooms are being re-organized and rearranged to support physical distancing.  We are spacing out and removing furniture, assigning seats, adjusting the number of students to the size of the classroom, and utilizing a variety of new indoor and outdoor spaces to allow for lower classroom density and increased ventilation.
What other changes can be expected outside of the classroom?

There will be a number of changes implemented on campus, including:

  • Barracks: During the initial five days on campus, cadets will be required to minimize contact outside of rooms without masks and practice the four pillars for public health, noted above. Once the cadets are tested and cleared, we will begin to migrate the cadets into their designated long-term living arrangements which may include a roommate. Once that is complete, we will run the barracks life, in part, similar to normal “home” operations. In other words, follow the same precautions your family would follow while in the house.

  • Bathrooms: We will work out a rotational use of the bathrooms for personal hygiene and use alternating sinks to create social distancing. Bathrooms will be cleaned by designated cadets and/or staff, using PPE and cleaning agents under the supervision of the adults monitoring the barracks. The number of cadets in the bathroom will be monitored by cadet leadership and adults on-duty in the barracks.

  • Mess Hall: In the Mess Hall, there is enough square footage, tables and chairs to practice social distancing.  If necessary, we will coordinate a rotating schedule for our population to eat in the Mess Hall.
Will campus events occur this fall?
The CDC and Pennsylvania guidelines for all gatherings will be followed. As of now, and to limit exposure to our cadets, all large fall campus gatherings have been cancelled, including Parents & Recognition Weekend. However, we are planning to virtually share the Recognition Ceremony. More details will be forthcoming.
Will there be an option of 5-Day Boarding this year?
All cadets will be 7-Day Boarders to limit exposure and mitigate risk to the Forge Family.
Will I be able to visit my child/children on campus or will they be allowed to come home?

Generally, in an effort to maintain a healthy campus, we are trying to limit campus visitors and campus departures. We ask that cadets remain on campus for the near future. 

If an emergency arises, you must contact the Commandant, Lead TAC Officer or OIC before your arrival to campus. Please be aware that all visitors must be masked and there is limited accessibility to campus. 

If a cadet is removed from campus for an extended period of time, quarantining may be required. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

I am trying to buy a round-trip airline ticket. What date should I book for my return home after the fall session?
Due to the overall uncertainty, we encourage you to purchase a one-way, open-ended, and/or flexible airline ticket. Please consider purchasing travel insurance for any unforeseen travel cancellations.
Will fall athletics and interscholastic competition occur?

Our goal is to safely operate the fall athletics season with training and/or modified practices. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has recently released initial guidance for high school sports and we are developing our plans accordingly. In addition, the School continues to be in close contact with our athletics leagues and peer schools to determine how to plan safe interscholastic competitions. We know athletics are important to many cadets and we thank you for your patience as we navigate this complex and fluid issue.

What happens if my child gets sick?

The Health Center team has worked extensively with the Planning Task Force to thoughtfully consider changes necessary to treat cadets in the setting of the ongoing pandemic. The Health Center has updated access protocols to reduce risk of exposure to cadets and staff. 

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International FAQs

Will my F-1 expire after five months if I do not hold a U.S. passport or permanent residency?
Students who are continuing to study amidst the COVID-19 emergency, and are remaining in Active status in SEVIS, will be permitted to return even if the time outside the US exceeds five months.
When should I plan to arrive in the United States?
If arriving from outside of the United States, students should plan to enter the United States and arrive at VFMAC on August 22. We ask that each cadet, while at home, prior to US arrival, practice social distancing and try and avoid or limit public transportation for approximately 14 days PRIOR to arriving at VFMAC. During this time, we ask students to monitor for symptoms and take their temperature twice per day. 

 This will help to reduce unnecessary exposure and prevent you from arriving in an airport or to campus feeling ill.

Where should international cadets look for the most up-to-date information and guidance regarding travel to the U.S. for the fall semester?

Cadets can find the most up-to-date information, including warning and restrictions at //travel.state.gov/content/travel.html.

What if I cannot arrive in the United States on August 22?
We know that travel restrictions, limited flights, and visa issues present uncertainty for our international cadets. Rest assured that we will hold your place at VFMAC and that we are equipping campus with technology that will allow you to participate in classes online until you arrive. Once you arrive in the United States, you will be required to quarantine on campus in a designated location for 14 days. After the fifth day on campus, testing for COVID-19 will be performed.  After 14 days of quarantine and provided you are well, all classes and activities may resume in-person.

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ksethi@vfmac.edu.

Where will I go if the campus is closed or I become ill?
International students are required to designate a host/guardian who is at least 21-years-old and lives within driving distance of the School, preferably within a 2-3 hour drive (200km – 300km). Hosts/guardians are to be present for the duration of your stay and must be available to drive to Valley Forge to pick you up within 12 hours in the event of campus closure, illness, discipline issue, or other reason deemed necessary by the School. This could also include, but is not limited to, a period of isolation or quarantine.

An Emergency host or guardian must be identified and written on your Commandant’s Emergency Contact Form and your Health Center Medical Forms.

What should I do if I am unable to find a host/guardian?
If you cannot identify a host or guardian within driving distance of Valley Forge, please contact our Director of International Admissions, Kerry Sethi at ksethi@vfmac.edu.  
I am trying to buy a round-trip international airline ticket. What date should I book for my return home after the fall session?
Due to the overall uncertainty, we encourage you to purchase a one-way, open-ended, and/or flexible airline ticket. Consider purchasing travel insurance in the event travel plans are unexpectedly changed. This may help reimburse you for unexpected losses.