Fort Jackson’s commander announced during the most recent virtual town hall that the installation has moved to Health Protection Condition Alpha – “with caveats.”
Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commander, announced July 1 the post was relaxing its HPCON as conditions continue to improve. Michaelis presided over his first town hall flanked by Post Command Sgt. Maj. Philson Tavernier who celebrated his one year anniversary in his position.
Fort Jackson’s 52nd commanding general introduced himself before making any announcements. Michaelis is an “Army brat” whose father was an Army officer and grandfather served in the Army during World War II.
His top priority is protecting the force, he said.
“My number one priority will continue to be, for the foreseeable future, is how we protect the force and protect the mission. All of your loved ones are here underneath a protective bubble, and we’ve worked with a social distancing bubble for quite a long time, but the vaccine gives us the ability to be on the offensive.”
“As of today, I’ve directed Fort Jackson to go to HPCON Alpha,” Michaelis said. “But, it does not mean that it is business as usual. It will not be business as usual until we are in a different place in our country’s vaccination efforts.”
It does not mean the post is totally open or back to normal.
“… When you’re on post, if you’ve been vaccinated you do not have to wear a mask … but if you are not vaccinated you do have tp wear them. We need to be in a place where it is socially acceptable that we ask people whether or not they are vaccinated.”
For example, Michaelis said that he was asked while going into the gym if he was vaccinated and to show his vaccination card. This is acceptable as part of post policy.
The HPCON requirements are based on the Centers for Disease Control and Protection guidance that includes being able to go into buildings after being vaccinated. Among the other parts of the HPCON is that incoming trainees will be tested for COVID.
“When your son or daughter comes to Fort Jackson, they will be tested,” Michaelis said. “We will make sure they’re tested and they will go into a period of time of controlled monitoring in very small groups, so that we don’t have any outbreaks of COVID …”
Changes to Fort Jackson will evolve as conditions improve.
“What that new normal looks like will be commensurate to the level of risk in and around Fort Jackson,” Michaelis said.
He added Family Day will not happen for the foreseeable future.
“I want Family Day back as much as you do,” he told the virtual audience.
“And I am working every day with my leadership to make sure we set conditions, both from a risk management perspective and a throughput perspective to be able to bring Family Day back. It is forefront on my agenda. So for now it is going to stay the way it is.”
While the post is not conducting Family Day activities, “graduation has been open for the past seven weeks and allows Family members, everyone out in the public to that same graduation whether you are vaccinated or not.” Tavernier said. “We ask those who are not vaccinated to do the right thing.”
The right thing includes wearing the mask and maintaining social distancing, because at the end of the day, what’s most important is “protecting your loved ones.”
“However, in the event you cannot attend in person, we continue to livestream on Facebook,” Tavernier added.
Among the other topics covered at the town hall included a reiteration that off-post passes are not available and that families cannot transport their Soldiers to Advanced Individual Training.
“Under current policy right now, the answer is no,” Michaelis said answering a question posed through social media adding that this may change due to improving conditions.
Michaelis also spoke briefly on the current status of permanent change of station season.
“We’re in the summer PCS cycle,” he said. “It is upon us. We know that the labor shortage in the United States right now is affecting our PCS cycle. If you’re having challenges in that area, please come up on the net, we have resources to be able to help.”
For help with PCS moves call the Housing Services Office at 751-7567.
To learn more or watch the town hall in its entirety visit: https://www.facebook.com/fortjackson/videos/884053728852784.