DINFOS addresses Coronavirus concerns

  In a recent digital town hall DINFOS Commandant Col. John S. Hutcheson
  addressed concerns from the school's workforce

A) Travel restrictions associated with the spread of coronavirus have meant a lot of adjustments to our course schedules. You can see our full up-to-date list of on our Coronavirus Update page.

A) We will adhere to all CDC guidelines regarding self-quarantine for new employees reporting in.

Currently, countries designated as Level 3 have the highest restrictions. If anyone does arrive from these countries, they are subject to a 14-day self quarantine before setting foot in the building. Currently, there are no requirements for quarantine for people coming from other places in the United States.

As it stands now, we have very few new employees set to start in the foreseeable future, and the current travel restrictions are limiting that possibility even further.

A) Great question. The National Defense Strategy requires a steady, predictable flow of high-quality, well-trained recruits into the force to ensure continuity of operations over the near, medium and long term.

Any significant disruption to that Recruiting-Accessioning-Training pipeline impacts the ability of DoD and the Services to execute their assigned missions. This is why we continue to execute initial entry training and why the Services continue to recruit new members, send them to Basic Training, then onto their schools and finally out to the fleet and field. As an example, see the memo from the Air Force Air Education and Training Command regarding their Mission Essential Determination for Basic Training and Tech Schools.

We are doing everything we can to keep the number of people in the building to the minimum necessary to carry out initial entry training and to keep the workforce and our students safe and healthy.

 

A) The President’s guidance of 10 or more pertains to social gatherings, which by their nature are discretionary. Our initial entry training courses are not social gatherings, and as of today, they are not discretionary. Indeed, they remain essential to the mission of the DoD and the Services until we are otherwise directed. All of us must do our part to adhere to the prescribed prevention measures in order to minimize risk to ourselves and our students. DINFOS will continue to look for new ways to deliver our training that further reduce risk to our faculty and students.

A) Online instruction for our courses is difficult for a few reasons. First, much of our Mass Communication Foundations course (MCF) and Maintenance curriculum is extremely hands-on and performance-based; it is very difficult to meet all the required training objectives in an online environment. There may be some portions of the curriculum that can be taught remotely, and some teams are already experimenting with this and learning how to better leverage our technology. But full conversion to online is unlikely.

Second, the Services have indicated that they do not want to switch to an online model yet for initial entry training. Some of the Services have policies prohibiting conducting IET in an online setting. At this time, they continue sending initial entry students (MCF, PAQC, Maintenance) until travel restrictions determine otherwise.

Third, there are technical/IT challenges with regard to Internet bandwidth at the student detachments.

While on the surface it would seem like an easy lift to convert a lot of courses to an online model, the in-resident curricula isn’t currently designed for online learning, and the majority of faculty are not yet trained in conducting online instruction. Once converted, those classes would have to conform to a certain standard that the services approve in order for it to still qualify their students for an MOS/AFSC/Rating. If the current restrictions remain in place for a lengthy time, DINFOS will explore the possibility of conducting some of its intermediate courses online if it nis deemed feasible.

A) Other educational institutions don’t train essential military personnel. We do. Our Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen aren’t college students pursuing purely academic endeavors; they’re military personnel who help protect the Nation and its vital interests. The Services and DoD consider initial entry training mission critical, and all of them are keeping their Recruiting-Accessioning-Training pipelines open while doing everything they can along each of those steps to keep the trainees and cadre safe. That means under present circumstances, our work here at DINFOS remains critical to our national defense. 

Interruption of the training pipeline, furthermore, could seriously imperil the services’ ability to provide military personnel to operational units, threatening ongoing and future missions, and all who depend upon their accomplishment. Further, this pandemic is not going to be resolved in a 14-day period. We are already seeing schools making even harder decisions, including shutting down for the year.

A) The situation is far too fluid at this moment to project the future with any certainty. At a minimum, it will take significant change in guidance from senior military and/or civilian government authorities. Medical assessments from agencies such as CDC, and our civilian and military leaders’ cost/benefit calculus will play an enormous role. And bear in mind in our federal system, state and local authorities heavily influence our daily lives even if they don’t set military policies.

We are all in uncharted waters right now and must be prepared for the current conditions to be extended.