The Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

VASSALBORO — The Maine Criminal Justice Academy’s police training is on hold after two cadets tested positive for COVID-19.

First reported by the Bangor Daily News and confirmed by the Morning Sentinel, officials at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy learned of the cases late Friday or early Saturday following a routine antigen test cadets took Thursday.

In all, 56 cadets arrived Nov. 8 and were supposed to stay for 10 days. The group was split into two, and the cadets who tested positive were in the same group. All were sent home over the weekend.

“It’s unfortunate that we had this happen,” Maine Criminal Justice Academy Director Rick Desjardins said. “We were obviously optimistic that we could get this done.

“This just shows you that we’re dealing with a very difficult virus to contain and control, but it’s important to get officers trained and incredibly important for us to solve the training problems, because we have to build officers and put them on the streets to solve what the public demands. And we’re built to do it.”

This is the same class that was suspended in March at the outset of the pandemic, and went to a hybrid approach in early April.

The cadets completed all but two elements to complete graduation standards, from provisional to full-time status. The two remaining elements were Emergency Operations Vehicle course and Mechanics of Arrest Restraint Control class. Both are in-person trainings.

The cadets who tested positive were in the latter group, but everyone was sent home to quarantine “out of an abundance of caution,” Desjardins said.

Cadets were first tested last Sunday when arriving for the program. Cadets are isolating and the cadets who tested positive were asymptomatic when tested. There’s been no evidence of spread.

“Quite frankly, it’s still in discussion. But we hope to get back as soon as we can,” Desjardins said. “We really only have one more element for each group to complete, so we’re looking at plans once the quarantine is over.”

Desjardins said they did multiple rounds of antigen testing. They did as much distancing as possible, but some trainings required periods of time of close contact.

“Those are things that are unfortunately part of the training requirements,” Desjardins said. “Incredibly valuable training — that’s a part of their graduation standards, and we’re confident we can get it done safely.”

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