NBC 7 has learned that both the 127th and 128th classes at the Miramar College-based public safety training program have been suspended following outbreaks of COVID-19 among its students and staff.
In a joint statement sent to NBC 7, the San Diego Community College District and The San Diego Regional Public Safety Training Institute confirmed that since July 24, a total of 23 recruits and four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.
On July 24 and 25, two recruits in the 127th academy class and one staff member from the academy tested positive for the virus. Two additional staff members developed symptoms but had not yet received test results.
Following this first cluster of cases, staff decided to suspend the 127th academy beginning July 26 until Aug. 9. On August 6, the decision was made to extend the suspension until Aug. 16.
Over the following week, additional Recruits from the 127th class tested positive for the virus, but none have developed any serious complications and all are improving each day, said Jack Beresford, San Diego Community College District's Director of Communications and Public Relations.
The 128th academy class was scheduled to begin July 26, after the 127th class had already been suspended. However, after recruits attended just six days, additional positive cases were reported among the second class of recruits leading to its suspension from Aug. 3-17.
A combined 215 recruits representing 15 different agencies within the region led by a staff of 22 Core Instructors make up the 127th and 128th Regional Academies.
The San Diego Police Department had begun instruction for recruits in the 127th Academy Class on April 26 at the city's Police and Fire Training facility, located just west of San Diego International Airport, but moved its instruction to the Miramar College site on June 28th.
When personnel are on site, temperature checks and health screenings are conducted, masking is required while inside all classrooms, and vaccination is emphasized. Staff is also keeping the Academy sections separate from each other as much as feasible according to the joint statement.
"We have also brought in a specialized disinfection crew to clean the affected areas all in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19," the statement added.
Captain Wes Morris, who oversees the training academy, told NBC 7 the academy doesn’t require recruits to reveal their vaccination status. Since they are recruits from various law enforcement agencies, they are hired based on those agencies’ rules and regulations.
NBC 7 asked both the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to provide data on their vaccination rate among academy staff. However, we have not received a response.
Although classes at the academy are slated to begin again on August 16, Morris told NBC 7 that date is not firm, and that it depends on the health of both recruits and staff. In the interim, healthy recruits are continuing their physical training at home, receiving study materials and even taking quizzes to keep in tune with the training regimen as much as possible.
The graduation of both recruit classes will be delayed by at least three weeks because of the outbreak.