ANNAPOLIS, Md. — First and second class midshipmen will begin to return to the Naval Academy in Annapolis in about a week under a staggered plan.

The midshipmen's return will start on or about July 20, Naval Academy spokeswoman Cmdr. Alana Garas told the Capital Gazette on Friday. The fall semester will feature in-person and online classes.

Students will be tested for the coronavirus when they return to campus. Their movements will be restricted for 14 days, and they will undergo another test at the end of that period.

Garas said midshipmen will be six feet apart and wear masks during classes. Tents will soon be set up on campus to expand the space where students can eat their meals.

Students completed the last semester with online learning from their homes around the nation due to the coronavirus pandemic. In May, the academy held its first-ever virtual graduation and commissioning ceremony.

But last month, Vice Adm. Sean Buck, the superintendent, told the academy's Board of Visitors that while academics can be done online, the other two pillars of the school's mission statement — developing midshipmen morally and physically — require hands-on experiences on campus.

"We cannot develop leaders for our nation's military services online," Buck said at the time.

Freshmen, known as plebes, already arrived at the academy. The Navy asked them to show up with their hair already cut to regulation and each received a temperature check and coronavirus test before being allowed onto campus.

The academy notified plebes' parents Friday that a yearly event for families originally scheduled for August has been indefinitely postponed.

"After thorough consideration and consultation with my entire leadership team, including USNA's health professionals, I believe this is a necessary decision in order to safeguard the health and welfare of the entire Naval Academy family and local community," Buck wrote in a letter to parents.

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