OTTAWA — The Canadian military is closing its colleges, recruit school and training institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those include the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., and the College militaire royal in St-Jean, Que., as well as the basic-training centre there.
The commandants of the colleges, where new officers are educated, ordered the suspension of classes on Tuesday and directed officer cadets to return home where they will finish their final three weeks of studies and final exams online.
The unprecedented move followed an order on March 14 from defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance that the officer cadets were to stay on their campuses and could not receive any guests due to COVID-19.
The two military colleges have also cancelled their convocation ceremonies while graduating officer cadets will receive their commissions as full officers in the Canadian Armed Forces when they join their respective units.
A memo from Vance says everyone who can be sent back to a "secure home environment" is going, but skeleton staffs will stay on, confined to base, to support military students who have nowhere else to go.
"While confined to base and quarters, all will be expected to take maximum precautions to prevent the spread of the virus," Vance's memo says. "Civilian staff will be offered an opportunity to isolate within our lines on a volunteer basis. We are doing all we can to take care of you and your families."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2020.