Airmen at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, and Scott Air Force Base, Ill., won’t have to take official physical fitness assessments until April 1, 2021.
“Based on local public health officials’ recommendation, the continued closure of indoor tracks, and extended state-wide restrictions of movement/gatherings, all fitness assessments at JBA will be postponed until 1 April 2021,” Col. Tyler R. Schaff, 316th Wing commander and the Andrews’ installation commander, wrote in a Nov. 30 memo that was shared on the unofficial Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page on Dec. 3 and whose authenticity was confirmed by a Joint Base Andrews spokesperson.
During a Dec. 2 Facebook town hall, Schaff admitted that he “struggled” with making the call, but he cited the following reasons for making the decision:
- Maryland’s unpredictable winter weather, which has the potential to make safe outdoor workouts challenging, if not impossible
- An extra-demanding workload, with the wing’s role in supporting the presidential inauguration in January
- The stress levels of his Airmen. “What I’m offering is that’s something that they just need not worry about for a couple months as they go through the holidays,” he said. “There’s so much stress, [and] so many things to have anxiety over, whether it’s relationships, whether it’s finances——pick the topic—and so this is one area that I found that we can just say, ‘I have the authority to push this down for three months,‘ so I took the opportunity to do that.”
Schaff underscored the delay isn’t a get-out-of-fitness-free card. Rather, he said, it’s a chance “for them to continue their PT,” since fitness is still among the service’s “pillars of resiliency.”
He also noted that he and Col. Michael J. Zuhlsdorf, who leads the 11th Wing and serves as installation commander at Anacostia-Bolling, were on the same page about the decision, noting the D.C. base would follow suit.
“For those that may be listening from Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Col. Zuhlsdorf and I synced up on that, and he signed the memo this week as well, so that we don’t have a ‘have and have-nots’ just a few miles down the road,” he said.
Scott made its announcement in a Dec. 1 memo posted to the installation’s website.
“This decision is based off guidance provided by public health officials and state and local restrictions currently in place,” wrote 375th Air Mobility Wing and Scott Air Force Base Installation Commander Col. Jeremiah S. Heathman in the memo.
Air Force guidance issued earlier this year authorizes commanders to make these kinds of delays, Air Force spokesperson Capt. Leah F. Brading confirmed in an email to Air Force Magazine.
Although there have been two other force-wide PT testing delays due to the pandemic, the service has yet to announce a third postponement and is slated to resume testing on Jan. 1, 2021.
As of 6 a.m. EST on Dec. 2, the Defense Department recorded 120,398 COVID-19 cases among its uniformed personnel, military dependents, and civilian employees and contractors. As of 2 p.m. EST on Nov. 30, the Department of the Air Force documented 14,520 cases among its Active-duty Airmen, Space Professionals, and Air Force Reserve Command personnel.