JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
For the first time since the start of the coronavirus 2019 pandemic, the Medical Education and Training Campus is re-opening graduations and class closings to limited guests, beginning with the Air Force Aerospace Medical Service Apprentice program graduation on August 3.
The new policy is subject to change based on local health protection conditions.
Although the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence began opening graduations for its Army students in METC single-service and consolidated programs, starting with an open graduation pilot program in June, the Air Force AMSA program will be the first METC-run graduation to welcome guests.
The program, which trains Air Force medical technicians in various aspects of emergency, nursing, and primary care, will graduate approximately 28 students who are trained to the standards of the National Registry Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT). All graduates must pass the NREMT certification examination, and are certified in Healthcare Provider Basic Life Support. In addition, graduates of this program are awarded college credits by the Community College of the Air Force.
Because METC’s mission plays a critical role in training the nation’s enlisted medical force, the training pipeline continued operations despite the pandemic. In order to continue supporting this mission-essential function as safely as possible, METC implemented several measures in March 2020 to protect students, faculty and staff from contracting COVID-19.
To lessen the safety risk, steps were taken to cancel all visits to the campus and suspend all guest attendance for mass gatherings, including graduations, which were not deemed mission essential. Since then, each service component has conducted their own graduation and class closing events separately, without guests. Some programs were able to live stream their graduation when able.
While the COVID vaccine has helped lower the infection rate on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and the San Antonio community, the re-opening of graduation and class closing ceremonies will take place under certain safety conditions to mitigate any further risk to service members and the community.
Each student is allowed up to two fully-vaccinated guests. Guests are considered fully vaccinated if two weeks have passed after their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and will be required to show their official COVID vaccination card before entering a campus building. Children who have not been fully vaccinated, regardless of age, will not be permitted to attend. Properly worn face coverings are required for all guests and personnel inside METC buildings.
Additionally, room capacity where the graduations take place may not exceed 50% of its maximum occupancy.
"We understand how challenging the pandemic has been for our students and their loved ones, especially when they’re not able to celebrate graduations together," said Chief Master Sgt. Donald "Brent" Cook, METC senior enlisted advisor. "We are excited to finally be welcoming family and friends back to METC and look forward to sharing this special milestone in the lives of our newest medics, corpsmen and technicians."