Officials reports 34 COVID-19 cases within Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy


RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) — Officials said there have been 29 cadets and five staff members at Lincoln’s ChalleNGe test positive for COVID-19.

“As of Oct. 16, the cadets and staff were experiencing either no symptoms or mild symptoms,” said officials in a news release. “They have been separated from the cadets and staff that tested negative for the virus.” All of the academy’s cadets, staff members and kitchen workers are being tested and getting their results.

The academy has 97 cadets.

Officials said cadets were tested after a staff member tested positive. The academy has been in contact with guardians regarding the positive tests.

The entire academy is being sanitized. They are also working with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District on any recommendations to contain the virus.

Officials said the academy class has been on campus since July and all cadets were screened before going in. “The class has been conducted in small groups with no interactions with outside groups as a precaution against COVID-19.” The class has also been wearing masks and following social distancing protocol.

“The class has been conducted in a ‘bubble’ with the program limiting exposure to the public as well as to their families and guardians,” said officials. “For example, family weekends were replaced with Zoom and phone calls.”

The class is expected to graduate in November. Officials said “academics have continued with both those that have tested positive and those that have not. Classes for those who have tested positive are being conducted using video-conferencing technology.”

Retired Colonel Michael Haerr, Director of Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy, said they made it several months without a positive case. He also said they “were taking great precautions, but our cadets are meeting this new challenge with the same dogged determination that got them this far into the program.” He continued to state, “I can’t say enough about the resilience, tenacity and persistence of these young men and women and the staff of this program.”

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