ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — Hundreds of men and women of the Class of 2024 reported to Alumni Hall at the Naval Academy for Plebe Induction on Tuesday.

But, because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a modified four-day period for Induction Day this year.

To keep the incoming Plebes and the Naval Academy safe, it is closed to all guests and members of the public.

CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

Incoming Plebes were instructed to come to the Naval Academy with their hair already cut to Navy standards, and they’ll be quarantined for two weeks.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to be a Naval Officer,” said Drew Wesley-Russell, Class of 2024.

It’s a once in a lifetime experience for the civilians who are beginning their six week transformation into Midshipman.

“I’m very excited. I know that this day will probably be the biggest change for me I’ve ever had in my whole life, and its really the start of my whole future,” said an incoming Plebe.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, to minimize the risk of spreading the virus, what used to be a whole day process has been cut down.

“Our number one priority is safety. Safety of our Midshipman, safety of our staff and safety of the public,” Commander Kelly Laing said.

About 1,200 men and women will report to Alumni Hall for the modified four-day period for Induction Day.

“Once they arrive, we’re processing around 325 [Plebes] a day, and we’re processing through a minimum processing mind, to get them the minimum gear they need, to get them the medical attention they need,” Commander Laing said.

All incoming Plebes must also get tested for COVID-19, then participate in a two-week restriction of movement period before they start Plebe summer.

“We’re going to come out on the backend of Plebe summer with a quadrant of Midshipman who are ready to be introduced into the Brigade of Midshipman for the Class of 2024,” Commander Laing said.

Despite all the changes, the incoming Class of 2024 Plebes said they’re ready to begin their 47-month journey to become Naval Officers.

“I’m here to serve my country and to develop my leadership abilities in order to be of better service to the Navy and Marines,” said Claudia Downing, Class of 2024.

The Oath of Office Ceremony has been postponed to a later date and will be live streamed so parents and loved ones can watch.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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