BRECKSVILLE — The staff at career tech schools such as the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center have been working to make sure their students still get a quality education, despite having to go to completely remote learning for the remainder of the school year.
Schools were ordered closed effective March 16 in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus; on April 20, Gov. Mike DeWine said that the state’s schools would continue to work remotely through the end of this school year.
School Superintendent Dave Mangas said that teachers had already been using online and technological resources.
"CVCC instructors were ready for remote delivery as our programs utilize many online resources as part of their instruction," Mangas said. "Examples include, Tooling U in machining, Ford ACE Training Modules in Automotive, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) online certification in Heating and Air Conditioning. A majority of our instructors utilize Google Classroom as a delivery platform and this works well in this remote learning format."
Several industries also "are stepping up to help," Mangas said.
"Liberty Ford is offering incentives for students who complete certifications and Adobe has approved CVCC’s request to offer students free access at home to their suite of software," Mangas said.
However, Mangas added that some courses were more difficult to move online.
"The biggest challenge is our students are hands-on learners and thrive in our lab settings," he said. "Students miss these experiences and they cannot be replicated remotely."
Mangas said that while the technology is important, he credited the instructors for their work, calling them key to their students’ success.
"Instructors not only need to keep in contact for instructional engagement but for the social and emotional welfare of our students," he said. "Teachers have posted lessons, but many are learning to post videos and create videoconferencing lessons so students can interact during this time of isolation. Parents and students are being told to continue to engage so when we return to face-to-face courses we can exclusively devote time in the labs.
"On the other hand, we also acknowledge that students may take on more responsibility with child care or assisting with work and income for the family," he added. "CVCC is committed to ensure all students have the lab time when we return to earn any certificate/license even if it is over the summer or evenings course sections next fall. I know the technical skills our teachers are learning are going to vastly improve our instruction when we return to face-to-face instruction."
Lisa Theodore, Dental Assisting instructor with CVCC, said that she felt fortunate that she had "a really good relationship with both my junior and senior students."
"I’m very blessed, my kids are pretty much on track," Theodore said. "All of my seniors have completed and taken their web exam, and have tested out through their four courses. All my juniors completed three courses. All are in good shape."
Students will take national certification, tentatively scheduled for May 20, using a computer, Theodore said. The test is given by PearsonVue in Independence.
"Seniors already received radiology certificate in February, and they already have CPR and AED cards," Theodore said.
A big disadvantage is with students who had been participating in paid early placement programs, Theodore said. These programs, which started in January in dental offices, orthodontist practices and other similar medical offices, came to a halt in March.
"We have 12 students who are devastated right now because dental offices are closed, so they had to go back to online assignments," Theodore said, adding students are usually graded and receive pay from their employer, with whom they had started training with in January.
Autumn Mone’, a 17-year-old junior in the dentistry program, said that trying to compensate for not having lab time has been a challenge.
"I prefer being in the classroom, we can do labs and hands-on," said Autumn. "At home, we don’t have the supplies to do that. Anatomy is hard, we can’t do one-on-one."
Autumn, who lives in North Royalton, said that she also missed seeing her teachers.
Other activities, such as mounting X-rays and doing mini-lessons, also can’t be replicated online, Autumn said.
How does one succeed in this new environment?
"By staying on track, and making sure you get things done on time," she said. "Don’t fall behind on your work."
The Cuyahoga Valley Career Center serves students from communities in the following school districts: Brecksville-Broadview Heights; Cuyahoga Heights; Garfield Heights; Independence; Nordonia Hills; North Royalton; Revere and Twinsburg.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC