The Navy has canceled petty officer 3rd class advancement exams for the second time this year to limit exposure to the coronavirus, a service statement said.
Instead, sailors will be selected for advancement from E-3 to E-4 this fall based on a scoring formula that is heavily based on job performance but also looks at other criteria, the statement said.
The decision to cancel fall E-4 exams was made because the advancement tests are normally taken in large groups aboard ships or in packed gymnasiums, where social distancing can't be enforced.
In the method that will replace the tests, the average of annual evaluation scores in rank count for 72% of the overall calculation. Awards, previous pass-but-not-advance points, time in rank and education also will be factored.
The same evaluation method was used in the spring -- when advancement exams were first canceled because of the virus -- to determine promotions, the statement said.
The new advancement policy was developed "to ensure the safety of our sailors during the COVID-19 outbreak, while still ensuring that all the sailors we advance have the proficiency, expertise and demonstrated capability to lead at the next level," Vice Adm. John B. Nowell, Jr., the service's top personnel officer, said in the statement.
Commands of active-duty and full-time support sailors have until Sept. 25 to finalize enlisted advancement worksheets, Navy officials said. Selected reserve cycle worksheets must be completed by Sept. 30, they said.
The changes affect active, full-time support and selected reserve sailors who are not in the prior service reenlistment eligibility reserve program.
E-5 and E-6 exams will be held separately throughout September, the statement said. The Navy said in the spring that those tests could be administered in smaller groups with appropriate social distancing.