The Six District Educational Compact is working with its member districts in hopes of having students in labs every day this upcoming school year.
Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Kent, Stow-Munroe Falls, Tallmadge and Woodridge are all in various states of reviewing and releasing their reopening plans that include a range of models, including fully remote, fully in-person and a hybrid of the two. However, Executive Director Mary Jane Stanchina said that the compact’s career technical education programs are being assessed separately from the standard learning environments.
"All six superintendents have discussed that career technical education needs to function as a different unit. Now that’s today, and that could change, but that’s the plan we’re working toward," she said.
The compact is using guidance from the governor’s office, the Ohio Department and Health and the Ohio Department of Education and the CTE appendix to the state’s reopening guidelines to inform their plan.
Currently, the compact plans to start all programs on Aug. 24, regardless of individual district’s schedules. Stanchina cautioned that the start date was different two weeks ago and may change again.
So, for example, while Theodore Roosevelt High School is gearing up for a blended learning model of two days of in-person instruction and two days of remote learning, students in the 11 CTE programs housed at Roosevelt could still be attending school five days a week.
Stanchina has been meeting with superintendents on a weekly basis to discuss arrangements and various plans and said that one of their guiding principles has been that students need to work in their labs as often as possible. In most of their programs, social distancing is possible, she said but there are a few that are in question.
"Consequently, that means we’ll be looking at different types of schedules. Right now, I can’t tell you what that looks like because I simply don’t know yet," she said
There are certain programs, such as business and marketing, that lend themselves better to a remote environment, but others, such as construction technologies, need to be in the labs, Stanchina said.
"My hope is that we can have students in labs every day. That’s my goal," she said.
A big issue for CTE students may be transportation, Stanchina said, but they currently have no set plans regarding busing students to and from various schools.
Typically, students spend half of their day at their home school and half at their program school, although some students remain at their program school for the entire day due to scheduling conflicts. Most students use the provided transportation, particularly students who are in the first year of the program.
Due to social distancing requirements, school bus capacities may significantly decrease, necessitating more buses or more trips.
"Somehow we will make it work," Stanchina said.
The compact will follow the same safety practices and sanitation procedures required by the individual districts, and will reassess the opening of their programs that serve the community, like the culinary program’s restaurant at Stow-Munroe Falls, later in the fall.
Brian Bachtel, Kent’s director of Career and Technical Education, said that should their programs operate on the hybrid learning model, currently planned as one of options for Kent City Schools, they would be using a series of online training programs to ensure that the remote learning experience is meaningful and beneficial.
Bachtel said they would be starting with an online program that has 36 modules focused on choosing a career, getting a job, resume building and succeeding at work. There are also a number of programs through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that allow students to receive certifications that will give them an edge professionally and advance them more quickly through apprenticeships. Other online programs will allow students to work on credentials that are recognized by the state of Ohio.
"The key here is that we are working diligently to make sure if we need to go online, and if we can’t meet five days a week, we have these resources building up and we can continue to provide students workforce development, information and credentials," Bachtel said.
"These resources aren’t just about making kids do work. They’re authentic, well-vetted learning opportunities."
Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, email@example.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoRCedu.