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    South Carolina National Guard prepares for transition back to residential Basic Leader Course

    South Carolina National Guard prepares for transition back to residential Basic Leader Course

    Photo By Spc. Flonasia Neals | U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Keith Mallon, 218th Regional Training Institute facilitator,...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Flonasia Neals 

    South Carolina National Guard

    COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The South Carolina National Guard prepares its Basic Leader Course (BLC) at the 218th Regional Training Institute (RTI) at McCrady Training Center in Eastover, South Carolina, to transition from virtual classes back to residential courses in the upcoming fiscal year.

    “We are planning for a phased approach to returning [back] to resident because it has been a year since we conducted a resident class,” states U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Brown, 218th RTI, 3rd Battalion Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Academy commandant.

    In June 2020, the 218th RTI developed a virtual instructional platform to safely continue the mission of training Soldiers to become NCOs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “We instantly immersed ourselves, brainstorming, developing [requests for information], proactively communicating with each other, using [after action reviews], building virtual classrooms, facilitating blocks of instruction, as well as conducting virtual evaluations,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Keith Mallon, 218th RTI BLC facilitator. “All of that hard work and preparation aided in building the current [virtual] product that is currently being used by virtual BLC.”

    Due to the restrictions and precautions demanded by COVID-19, the 218th had to adapt and adjust their instructional styles to help the Soldiers receive the same knowledge as they would if in a residential course.

    “The virtual platform gave us the ability to be available well past [close of business],” stated U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Keith Mallon. “Myself and my partner, [U.S. Army] Staff Sgt. Ronald Brayboy, made it a point each cycle to emphasize that we were approachable after hours. Both of us noticed a distinct positive shift regarding the student’s understanding of the course material and evaluation performance steps.”

    The staff and facilitators of the RTI are taking conservative measures to ensure the safety of Soldiers and staff as the program makes the transition back to residential.

    “We are following the CDC guidelines and protocols in order to protect our staff, students, and faculty,” stated Brown. “This includes COVID-19 tests prior to arriving and another test upon arrival. Students will be required to wear masks in the classroom and barracks, and they will be advised to stay at least six feet away from one another at all times.”

    As the 218th RTI makes this adjustment, there are challenges the program will have to overcome.

    “The main challenge [is] determining how many Soldiers to bring back for a resident BLC, how many students to put in a classroom, and how to configure classrooms to accommodate social distancing,” stated U.S. Army Master Sgt. Larry Lawton, 218th RTI chief of training. “The staff developed several [courses of action] to determine the best outcome.”

    Although this transition presents challenges, the staff and facilitators are preparing to overcome these obstacles.

    “All students are required to report with a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the report date. Once they arrive, students and facilitators will be tested again by [South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control] personnel,” stated Lawton. “ Students are required to wear a face-covering at all times. Students' temperatures will be checked two times per day. Classrooms will be cleaned and sanitized each morning. Hand sanitizer will be provided in the classrooms and barracks. Student activities will be monitored, and facilitators will brief students daily on COVID-19 mitigation strategies during and after duty hours.”

    The 218th RTI is working to fully have BLC back to a residential course.

    “We have been directed to plan for normal operations beginning with the new fiscal year, bearing in mind that anything can happen between now and October,” stated Brown.

    The decision to keep the virtual course as an option is unknown at this time.

    “The latest information coming from [United States Army Training and Doctrine Command] and NCO [Leadership Center of Excellence] indicate that it will not remain an ongoing option, provided COVID-19 infections fall to levels that allow us to go back to full resident conduct,” stated Brown.

    The South Carolina National Guard 218th RTI provides service members across the armed forces with exceptional training based on the conditions outlined by the National Guard Bureau for Army National Guard, U.S Army Reserve, and active components. The RTI also contributes to the training, administrative, operational, logistical, and supply management under the direction of the adjutant general.



    Date Taken: 05.03.2021
    Date Posted: 05.03.2021 12:45
    Story ID: 395414
    Location: COLUMBIA, SC, US 

    Web Views: 111
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