Missouri Military Academy's 132nd Corps of Cadets Steps Up to the Challenges of COVID-19
Structure, self-discipline and accountability are standards of the Missouri Military Academy (MMA) experience, and for the Academy’s 132nd corps of cadets reporting to campus this fall, these standards — upheld via mandatory mask wearing, cleaning, personal hygiene and other layers of COVID-19 risk mitigation — will be expected with heightened awareness of personal and social responsibility during the global pandemic. Between 180 and 210 cadets in grades 7 to 12, plus post-grad year, are expected to join MMA’s corps for on-campus instruction in Mexico, Missouri, located approximately two hours from St. Louis and 30 minutes from Columbia, this fall.
New cadets reported to MMA on August 5, while cadet leaders and athletes have been on campus since July 29, participating in Cadet Cadre Leadership Training and pre-season sports camp. With cadets arriving from all over the country for the academy’s all-boy, college-preparatory military school education, MMA enacted several registration and arrival protocols to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19, including online registration, drive-thru drop-offs and a virtual New Cadet Resolution Ceremony to limit contact and exposure between families, faculty and staff.
Above, Cadet Kevin Wang helps a new cadet with his belongings during move-in day on August 5. Fall 2020 registration and move-in procedures were designed to minimize contact and mitigate COVID risk.
During a cadet’s first two weeks on campus, he will be tested for COVID-19 and remain in a single occupancy room. Masks are mandatory on campus, and social distancing reminders are posted for cadets, faculty and staff. Each day throughout the fall semester, cadets will have their temperatures and health checked. Faculty and staff will also have their temperature checked upon reporting to campus and will self-assess their own health daily, reminded to stay home when not well. Staff will maintain continuous cleaning, disinfection and sanitation across campus, plus daily monitoring of ventilation systems.
During fall 2020, MMA will maintain a contained campus with some exceptions that are designed to support cadets’ academic, athletic and military training while mitigating COVID-19 risk.
“We believe on-campus experiences and in-person instruction will always be more effective than virtual interaction in educating and inspiring our cadets to fulfill their potential,” said Missouri Military Academy President Brigadier General Richard V. Geraci, USA (Ret). “Our protocols this fall place limitations on visitors to campus and off-campus activities, restricting outside interactions to those essential to our cadets’ education and development.”
Above, new cadets participated in the cadet resolution ceremony, an MMA tradition. The ceremony was streamed live for families and friends on Saturday, August 8.
Among the exceptions, cadets in MMA’s College Triumph Program will take classes at William Woods University, the academy’s higher education partner, and participate in athletics as allowed by the Missouri State High School Athletic and Activities Association (MSHSAA), following MMA’s and the partnering organization’s COVID mitigation protocols.
Among the containment restrictions, MMA has postponed its 2020 homecoming until spring 2021 and cancelled on-campus family activities normally held during fall semester. The Academy plans to livestream athletic activities and other events to keep families connected with their cadets. For example, during the New Cadet Resolution Ceremony held August 8, cadets made their official pledge to honor MMA's core values and act with the highest integrity as cadets at the Academy and citizens in their communities. Family and friends watched the ceremony, an MMA tradition, online and connected with each other via social media to celebrate.
“We understand the restrictions related to the contained campus are difficult for families, and as a father and grandfather, I wish they weren’t necessary,” said Geraci. “But we will operate this semester with conservative measures in place to help us maintain the safest environment possible and keep our cadets learning in the classroom, competing on the athletic fields, working together as a team and growing to become effective leaders. As we monitor the ever-changing environment, we remain flexible and will make changes to our current operational measures as necessary.”
Several MMA cadets hail from areas of the U.S. where local education options this fall are restricted to online learning.
“I miss my cadet so much, but I breathe a sigh of relief that he is at MMA. Teen boys need socialization, comradery, regular physical activity and consistent structure to learn and thrive,” said MMA mom Erin Schreyer from Dallas, Texas, whose son Evan is a junior and returning to MMA for the third year. “I am cheering for MMA and the blessing of boarding school that gives the opportunity for the most normal life in the midst of a totally chaotic world! Grateful doesn’t even capture it, and it helps ease the sadness of missing our boys to know they’re getting the best option available.”
Some international families have made even greater sacrifices to ensure their cadets are able to attend MMA this fall. Twenty international cadets stayed on MMA’s campus for the summer after the conclusion of the spring 2020 semester, while several others stayed with friends or family in the U.S. instead of travelling home. Last year, approximately 25% of MMA cadets hailed from outside of the U.S., from 15 different countries. This year, due to visa restrictions found within many countries, the number of international students will decline.
“We are continuing to work with international families seeking to send their young men to MMA, and when any new cadets arrive during the semester, no matter what their home state or country is, they will all be tested for COVID and maintain a 14-day period in a single-occupancy room,” Geraci said. “Our international cadets add to the educational experience for our cadets, and we recognize the value of cultural diversity within the corps of cadets.”
MMA offers open enrollment throughout the year, and MMA admissions counselors continue to support new families interested in enrolling cadets for the fall 2020 semester.
Founded in 1889, Missouri Military Academy (MMA) is a private all-boy college preparatory academy that serves grades 7 through 12 and offers a post-graduate year. Located in a safe and peaceful setting in rural Missouri, MMA educates students from around the world who seek college preparatory and career readiness programs in a military structured environment, focused on developing self-confidence and grit. Our 360° Education™ promotes academic excellence and success, character development, physical development, personal motivation and leadership training to prepare young men to take command of their personal lives and their future. For more information, visit www.MissouriMilitaryAcademy.org.