Career And Technical Education Paves The Way For School Reopenings

Jul 7, 2020

Nursing students at A.K. Smith Career Center in Michigan City take a review on the first day of the summer bridge program.
Credit Justin Hicks / IPB News

Career and technical education programs across Indiana were allowed to begin hands-on classes Monday so students could finish course requirements. It’s the first time students will take classes in a school since the pandemic began.

The Indiana Office of CTE says 22 sites are able to begin in-person classes. Most of the programs are in subjects like cosmetology, nursing assistance and firefighting, which require practical experiences for certification. Classes will only be filled to 50 percent capacity and everyone must wear masks and maintain physical distance. 

Tabitha Hughes is the Certified Nursing Assistant program director at A.K. Smith Career Center in Michigan City. She said students have been working on theoretical knowledge online all semester, but it’s no substitute for practical experience.

“Oh for CTE it is huge! It’s one of our biggest things,” she said. “So if we don’t have that hands-on [experience], we can’t complete our stuff.”

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana 2020 Two-Way. Text "elections" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on COVID-19 and the 2020 election.

Charity Crenshaw, cosmetology instructor at the same career center, said teaching students to cut hair and give manicures requires physical contact and it will take time to adjust to the state’s distancing requirements.

“So that’s going to be the hardest part,” she says. “I think just trying to make sure I’m sticking to the guidelines, but I need them to understand and just don’t tell me, yeah, yeah, yeah, to get through it.”

Other students participating in work-based learning or clinical placements were also allowed to return to those jobs at the beginning of the month. 

Meanwhile, the state’s reopening guidance also allows extra curricular activities, including sports practices, to resume in-person activities. 

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.