Training during the current COVID-19 situation can be difficult, but the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) proves it can be done, and it can be done successfully.
After a short suspension of all activities earlier in the year, FLETC revised training processes to mitigate COVID-19 impacts and resumed training on June 17 in a safe and effective manner. After another small pause in training recently at FLETC Glynco, training again restarted on November 10, confirming that the processes and precautions put into place to provide a positive training environment are working.
While factors like social distancing and wearing masks are important to help slow the risk of the coronavirus, it’s the testing FLETC does that really helps keep training ongoing.
“All students are tested twice during their initial 10-day restriction of movement (ROM) period upon arriving at a residential FLETC facility,” said Assistant Director for Technical Training Operations Kai Munshi. “They are tested around day one and again around day five. The day five test is the most important as it will likely detect an individual who contracted COVID-19 in transit to a FLETC facility.”
“High-contact instructors are offered voluntary testing on a bi-weekly basis,” Munshi added. “We also recently added a category for close contact staff that may include anyone – instructor or non-instructor – who may have prolonged exposure to students of 15 minutes or more.”
To date, FLETC has conducted approximately 15,000 COVID-19 tests, including testing more than 1,000 students over the course of one day during the most recent pause in training. To accomplish this successfully takes a lot of time and planning.
Students line up, with appropriate social distancing, to begin the COVID-19 testing process. (Courtesy Photo)
“The [testing] process is the same for both our students and staff,” said Munshi. “Each training delivery point utilizes a location to administer testing that has specific characteristics such as adequate ventilation, and space to socially distance between individuals being tested. When an individual arrives at a testing location, a volunteer test monitor will take their temperature and ask them a series of COVID-19 screening questions. The individual will then proceed to a registration table where they will be checked-in and issued a test kit. They will then proceed to another area where they will take the self-administered buccal saliva test under the supervision of another trained volunteer test monitor. The entire process takes around five minutes.”
Just as important as distancing and ventilation is having qualified volunteers. “Right now, there are roughly 100 trained volunteers across the FLETC enterprise,” said Munshi. “We are absolutely in need of, and welcome, additional volunteers.
Students get a small bottle of hand sanitizer as they leave the testing area. (Courtesy Photo)
“Every test result is reviewed by a medical doctor at the Department before being released,” Munshi said. “Negative test results are immediately sent to the student or instructor, and positive test results are first sent to the incident response team. The incident response team is comprised of representatives from emergency management, student services, and others who are responsible for making immediate notification to the individual who tested positive. Their job is to make sure that the individual is personally notified and provided with resources and information to assist them. They will also receive an email with their test results within a day or so. In addition, a trained contact tracer will reach out to them to perform detailed contact tracing. Instructors and staff are provided with return-to-work guidance, and students are immediately moved into isolation to prevent further spread within the student population.”
The final step in the cycle is, as Munshi mentioned, contact tracing, which is usually initiated within one hour of any reported positive COVID-19 case. And of course, FLETC is well prepared for that step.
“There are also close to 100 FLETC staff and participating organization representatives who are certified through Johns Hopkins University as Contact Tracers,” he said.
All told, FLETC has successfully kept the positivity rate for COVID-19 to a mere .5%, which is significantly less than the national average. FLETC has successfully screened and administered over 700,000 temperature checks to personnel coming through the gates and they have administered over 225,000 temperature checks of students entering the dining facilities. All these measures, along with the efforts of the instructors, staff, and students throughout the FLETC training delivery points, have allowed FLETC to continue to train and graduate those who protect our homeland.
FLETC provides career-long training to law enforcement professionals to help them fulfill their responsibilities safely and proficiently. Through strategic partnerships, FLETC prepares the federal law enforcement community to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.
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