The outbreak of COVID-19 last spring forced the United States Air Force Academy (AFA) to switch to remote learning. The move, which was geared at keeping cadets safe, caused a second outbreak, this time of cheating.

Things began to go awry when the Academy sent home for remote learning 3,000 cadets from the lower three classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023 during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as the country looked to limit the spread of the virus and keep social distancing. Only the senior class of 2020 was kept on campus.

“Part of the review will focus on the spring semester of 2020, when the Academy made the unprecedented decision in March to send the lower three classes home, approximately 3,000 cadets, in order to best protect their health and safety,” academy officials said in a news release Friday, as reported on

“The decision forced a swift, 8-day transition of the Academy’s academic curriculum to at-home remote classes, a first for the traditionally in-person institution. Unfortunately, amidst these extraordinary circumstances and challenges, 249 cadets were suspected of violating the Academy’s Honor Code.”

In the wake of the scandal, the academy is undertaking a broad “honor review.” The 249 cadets are now under investigation for cheating on assignments or exams.

The academy said that the cadets in question are suspected of violating the school’s honor code in several different ways, from failing to properly cite sources to looking up answers on unauthorized websites during exams. Some cadets even completed final exams in small groups. The cheating cadets were discovered through established academic safeguards by the Dean of Faculty.

None of the seniors who graduated were involved in the cheating. 

Air Force Academy Cadets Caught Cheating
The Air Force Academy’s Honor Code is displayed on the school’s terrazzo. (Gazette)

Because of this scandal, Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark has ordered the first review of the academy’s honor program in several years. The academy’s honor code is simple: “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.”