Fort Rucker to reopen schools to in-person learning, bring workers back into office

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FORT RUCKER, Ala. (WDHN) — Fort Rucker will loosen its COVID-19 safety rules thanks to improving conditions, according to Maj. Gen. David Francis.

Since late July, the case rates in Fort Rucker and the surrouding areas in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida have declined, allowing the base to move to the next stage.

This Wednesday, Fort Rucker will now go to HPCON (health protection conditions) Bravo. The Department of Defense sets the guidelines for this level as the following:

  • Practice social distancing. Avoid unnecessary contact with others, such as shaking hands and hugging.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel, especially to areas known to be experiencing active disease transmission.
  • Ensure supplies of food, medication and other items needed for babies and pets are available to last at least 14 days. 
  • Prepare for travel restrictions and cancellation of public gatherings, such as school, religious and other community activities. Make alternative arrangements for childcare.
  • Observe local guidance on movement restrictions and access requirements for military installations.
  • Seek guidance from employers and unit leaders about changes to work practices (for example, telework) and training events.
  • Comply with medical orders for self-isolation or quarantine.

“The transition to HPCON Bravo allows us to do two things,” Francis said. “First, this decision allows the DODEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) school system to begin the process of preparing to open our elementary school to in-person schooling. DoDEA expects this process to take about two weeks, and we are expecting in-person school learning to begin on Oct. 1.”

The system will have a plan in place to handle COVID-19 cases that pop up in schools, and parents will be receive information on the procedures in the coming weeks.

Another change will be the return of Ft. Rucker workers who were teleworking from home. However, the general made it clear that the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks is still active, even with the improvement seen in the Wiregrass.

As a result, Francis issued General Order 6, which put in the following changes:

  • The travel restriction has been extended to 150 miles in a straight line distance from the post.
  • Personnel can go to the movie theater now
  • Military personnel can dine at establishments on post, but off-post dining is prohibited.

Other guidelines from Gen. Order 5 remain in effective.

Francis said the relaxation of these rules depends on the community’s adherence to safety guidelines.

“Each one of us is responsible for ourselves and each other to execute these procedures in a disciplined manner,” he said. “Now, I know we can do it, and we’re counting on each of you to do the right thing.”

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