Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

More than 50 cadets at Maine’s police academy will have to wait to finish training after two tested positive for the coronavirus last week, shutting down the program.

The Maine Criminal Justice Academy learned of the positive cases either late Friday or early Saturday after all 56 cadets were tested on Thursday as part of a routine screening using antigen tests, said Rick Desjardins, the academy’s director. 

The rest of the training was suspended “out of an abundance of caution,” he said. Candidates were also tested last Sunday when they first arrived at the academy training center in Vassalboro. 

The academy initially shut down in-person training when the pandemic hit Maine in March. It has since adopted a blend of remote and in-person instruction, Desjardins said. The certifications for driving emergency vehicles and arrest procedures the group was engaged in last week required an in-person evaluation. 

“We can’t close up shop and wait for things to go away,” Desjardins said of continuing training. “We have to function in a world where COVID exists.”

Desjardins said the cadets came from separate police departments but declined to say which ones. He said the candidates have been instructed to isolate and were asymptomatic when tested. The remainder of the group’s training has not been rescheduled, Desjardins said.

Robert Long, a spokesperson for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the agency checks in daily with the Maine Department of Public Safety to discuss coronavirus responses and protocols.