Army training centers prepare to safely send soldiers home for Holiday Block Leave

Army

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — In just days, more than 45,000 at U.S. Army training centers around the country will travel for the holidays and officials are working to make sure soldiers and the communities they visit stay safe.

10 On Your Side spoke with Brigadier General John Kline, who is the commanding general for the Army’s Center for Initial Military Training.

He says each year, the Army allows for those at four basic combat training centers and 20 other installations around the country to go on Holiday Block Leave.

“We’re proud to do it and we reap the benefits when they all come back. They’re all energized and ready to get back to training,” Kline said.

Last year, Kline says they allowed Holiday Block Leave despite COVID-19. While all were unvaccinated, they had safety protocols in place.

“The U.S. Army does not want to be the vector for a disease like this. Last year, we were hugely successful,” Kline said.

Kline says last year, a little over 400 came down with COVID-19 out of more than 45,000. This year, they’re sending people home with less than 1% unvaccinated.

They’re encouraging those who are vaccinated to continue health protocols such as hand washing and masking.

When they return, they’ll be checked, unlike last year when everyone was tested, according to Kline.

“For those vaccinated, we’re doing a screening — the temperature checks and seeing if they’re symptomatic like we saw in the early stages of COVID,” he said.

But for those unvaccinated, Kline says they’ll follow the same protocols that were in place last year with testing prior to leaving and upon return.

Those who test positive, no matter vaccination status, will be quarantined for 14 days.

Those who get sick at home will be required to stay home until they are cleared.

Kline is optimistic that many will heed their health protocols because those in training don’t want to fall behind.

“They don’t want to do anything wrong. They don’t want to get cycled into another class. They want to stay with the trainees they’ve been training with. They’d be nervous about getting recycled to another class because they get to quarantine for another 14 days,” he said.

Kline says Holiday Block Leave begins on Dec. 16 and those who decided to take the time away will be back around Jan. 3.

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