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Mass. state police academy closes after 2 recruits positive for COVID-19

State police had previously accelerated the training academy by several weeks due to COVID-19 staffing shortages

Jeanette DeForge

NEW BRAINTREE, Mass. — Massachusetts State Police officials shut down the on-site recruit training academy on Tuesday after two trainees in the 85th class reported they had tested positive for COVID-19.

State Police had already accelerated the training academy by several weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic and moved the graduation, originally scheduled for June, to May 6, said David Procopio, state police spokesman.

“Late last week the department decided that this current week, April 20-24, would be the last week for on-site training at the New Braintree facility and trainees would undergo one additional week of online learning and the graduate on May 6,” he said.

After one male and one female trainee, who each had close acquaintances who been infected with COVID-19, told educators they too had tested positive, the director dismissed the remaining 239 class members on Tuesday, he said.

All class members have been told to quarantine for 14 days as a preventative measure. They will also be tested for COVID-19 during that period, Procopio said.

“While not all trainees had contact with the two who have tested positive, the decision to dismiss all of them was made out of an abundance of caution, Procopio said.

Academy staff members who had potential contact with the two trainees will be required to self-report, self-quarantine and will have the option of being tested at one of the first responder priority testing sites, he said.

The recruits will finish the rest of the curriculum online and will still graduate on May 6, five weeks earlier than scheduled. The graduation will be done with no audience and no ceremonial flourishes, he said.

The director determined the recruits have received the training they need to join the State Police after graduation, Procopio said.

The recruit class began in January and by March instructors had put in place a number of protocols to prevent the coronavirus from spreading including redesigning drills and school work to make social distancing possible, breaking groups into smaller platoons to give them more space, having all recruits evaluated medically when they returned after the weekend or if any of them showed symptoms of being ill and changing food service, he said.