Army to proceed with West Point graduation ceremony

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(CNN) — The Army will proceed with this year’s graduation ceremony at the US Military Academy in June at West Point, New York, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with President Donald Trump giving the 2020 commencement speech for cadets.

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said that after careful consideration, the Army is “putting the appropriate measures in place to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and to protect our Force, Cadets and Families.”

West Point issued a statement Wednesday that said the Class of 2020, comprised of approximately 1,000 cadets, will return to campus to attend the ceremony, slated for Saturday, June 13. But the procession “will look different from recent graduation ceremonies due to current force health protection requirements” related to the coronavirus.

Trump had said earlier this month that he would be attending the ceremony, marking his first speech at a West Point graduation.

“I’m doing it at West Point, which I look forward to. I did it last year at Air Force. I did it in Annapolis. I did it at the Coast Guard Academy and I’m doing it at West Point. And I assume … they’ll have (social) distancing. They’ll have some big distance, so it’ll look very different than it ever looked,” Trump said.

West Point’s campus is in New York state, which has been the state hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic so far. Cadets have been away from campus since early March.

According to the academy, “Online learning began Thursday, March 19, and will continue through term end exams.” The academy also declared a public health emergency.

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