By Natela Cutter
The first batch of Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Army students departed to their next duty station this weekend, after four weeks of waiting for the lifting of the Department of Defense directive that called for the stopping of troop movement to new installations because of COVID-19.
“DLI just completed its first sanitized shipment of 45 outbound service members in order to continue follow-on training. This is very exciting because we are able to get close to normal operations as possible within the constraints of COVID-19,” said Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Joseph Kuykendall.
Just last week, the first group of 49 Army service members arrived from Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, via sanitized transportation with a commercial jet that landed at Monterey Peninsula Airport. Another two groups of about 40 students each arrived from other locations Monday and Tuesday of last week, bringing the number of new students to more than 120.
As the Soldiers deboarded the flight, each group of incoming students was picked up by a team from DLIFLC with disinfected buses and vans to transport them back to the Presidio of Monterey.
“I felt safe on the flight. We all wore masks and we tried to social distance,” said Pvt. Tyler Tufflebean, who had been waiting to come to Monterey to study Russian since Jan. 27.
Like his peers, Tufflebean underwent a medical evaluation for any COVID-19 symptoms before leaving basic training. Due to these measures, and the sanitized transportation, there will be no need for additional isolation or quarantining of the new arrivals.
Currently, the same type of measures are being taken for outbound students, with robust pre-screening taking place by California Medical Detachment personnel on the Presidio.
“We are pursuing a conditions-based, phased recovery approach to resume normal operations at DLI,” explained Kuykendall. “This approach allows the command to assess … guidance from federal, state and local authorities to ensure we resume operations by making the safety of our personnel and local community our primary goal.”
But until the return to Presidio classrooms takes place, these new foreign language students will begin their lessons virtually as they wait for optimal conditions for the safe return of students and faculty to the Presidio of Monterey.
Posted Date: 18 May 2020