TISDALE — The #624 Tisdale Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron has resumed in-person training, with strict COVID-19 precautions.
Mike Benjamin, the squadron’s commanding officer, said the squadron has been given specific orders on how to resume their training.
“It’s a gradual approach, it’s not ‘everybody comes back right away,’” Benjamin said. “We’re going to slowly start up our operations, our in-person training. It’s very important that we don’t become a conduit to spread the COVID-19 virus.”
These guidelines include mandatory masks for staff and cadets, physical distancing, a mandatory screening process, and strict cleaning protocols before, during and after training.
Anybody who is showing symptoms of the virus or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive is asked to stay away from the training area until such time as they feel better or have been medically cleared.
“We also have the option to resort to online virtual training, and we have a contingency plan in place should a restriction come back.”
Benjamin said the squadron has continued to grow, with another increase in first and second year cadets resulting in approximately 40 cadets and six staff.
“We are now on pace to become one of the largest air cadet squadrons outside of a major centre in Saskatchewan, so that’s an excellent bonus for us in Tisdale,” he said.
“Our numbers are the highest they’ve been for a very long time.”
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and comply with provincial crowd guidelines, the cadets are broken up into two separate squadrons that don’t physically interact with one another.
Benjamin credits the continued growth to the shift of cadet led activities, as well as cadets telling their friends and peers about their enjoyment in the program.
“They’re telling their friends and their friends are very interested in becoming members of the squadron.”
In particular, Benjamin said the number of girl cadets has continued to grow. He called this an “excellent thing to see.”
“The program is meant for both boys and girls, and it’s an excellent opportunity for girls to develop their leadership skills, their confidence, self-esteem, [and] pride,” he said. “It’s great to see our girl numbers are increasing, that’s something I’m very happy with.”