At a Glance
While adhering to Pennsylvania Department of Education COVID-19 guidelines and CDC guidelines, as well as navigating through students’ personal challenges, the administration and faculty at Lenape Technical School Adult & Continuing Education set a goal to graduate 25 adult students from five separate entry-level workforce CTE training programs between September and December of 2020. The cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders proved critical to help Lenape Tech’s Adult Education program meet this objective.
When the Covid-19 pandemic abruptly forced schools to pivot their delivery models and reassess how best to meet the needs of students in a changed learning environment, it was essential to the faculty and staff at Lenape Technical School Adult & Continuing Education that their goals and objectives for students remain steadfast. During the Fall 2020 semester, Lenape Tech planned to enroll adult students in five program:
- Entry Level HVAC Tech,
- Entry Level Welding Tech,
- Entry Level Electrical Tech,
- Phlebotomy Tech, and
- Clinical Medical Assistant.
The faculty developed an alternate training strategy to address the constraints posed by the pandemic and approached the Fall 2020 semester with an understanding that a collective effort from administrators, instructors and students was needed to help students successfully complete their training.
To meet the goal of graduating 25 adult students from the five separate entry-level workforce CTE training programs at the end of the Fall 2020 semester, the faculty implemented several key practices and policies that prioritized keeping faculty and students safe while providing high-quality learning experiences to students. The faculty knew that in-class instruction is a vital component of CTE, and so they focused efforts on how to make it possible for students to physically be on campus and how to bridge any learning gaps if such on-campus instruction was not feasible. The measures taken by Lenape Tech’s Adult Education office included:
- Orienting adult students as well as instructors on Covid-19 protocols and adherence to those protocols throughout the duration of the training. For example, all stakeholders had to wear a mask while in class, and all healthcare students were required to also wear a face shield while performing any skills lab assignments.
- Ensuring supplies of PPE were available and accessible to all participants.
- Monitoring daily health screenings to support a safe learning environment. Health screenings were conducted at the beginning of each on-campus class to ensure compliance.
- Maintaining regular communication with all stakeholders to ensure continued compliance.
- Providing alternate learning options for students and instructors to ensure continuity of learning. All students received refurbished Chromebooks (at no additional cost) to allow access to training should they not be able to make it to campus. Instructors could synchronously keep all students on task without interruptions to the program curriculum. Additionally, some instructors conducted the theory portion of program training virtually to reduce the time students spent on campus.
- Remaining flexible to accommodate new protocol directives (campus shutdowns, positive Covid-19 cases, etc.).
With such intentional planning and adherence to safety provisions, the faculty of Lenape Technical School Adult & Continuing Education met its Fall 2020 semester goal of helping students successfully complete their respective programs.
It is important to note that staff and students had to address some challenges along the way, many of which were related to technology. For example, some students did not have internet access at home and so instructors provided alternate assignments to compensate for any missed training. To address differing skill levels related to using technology, students took a technology assessment which helped instructors adjust technology requirements as needed. If a student’s refurbished Chromebook was not reliable, then staff tried to find a replacement one.
For healthcare faculty and students, finding and fully executing healthcare externships proved challenging due to extremely (and understandably) limited host site availability. Ultimately, some of the graduates transitioned directly into paid employment, while others were able to begin limited externships.
By working together and committing to practices that may have been difficult to adjust to but proved necessary, the faculty and students succeeded in making education a top priority even in the face of a challenging and constantly changing situation.
At the end of the fall 2020 semester, all students successfully completed their respective programs, exiting with a minimum of one marketable, nationally recognized credential or certification. As of January 2021, of the 25 completing adults, six already are employed, six are in or preparing to begin externships, and two have registered for continued post-secondary training.