XENIA — The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t slowed construction of the new Greene County Career Center (GCCC) nor has it halted learning for career-tech juniors and seniors.
According to GCCC Superintendent Dave Deskins, building the new 264,000-square-foot facility just off U.S. Route 35 near U.S. Route 68 continues on schedule, as long as the workforce is not impacted. He said he was on site Tuesday and 180 crew members were hard at work. The current timeline has students starting classes there in the fall.
The state-mandated stay at home order, signed by Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton on Sunday, orders everyone to stay at home unless engaged in essential work or activities, which includes essential infrastructure. School construction falls under that category.
Students are on spring break this week, but Deskins said the first days of online learning went “remarkably well,” thanks in part to the fact that each student already had been using a laptop for schoolwork.
“We migrated to a one-to-one initiative two and a half years ago, with a half year to allow staff to get familiar with the instruments and the Schoology program — a place our kids are already used to posting and pulling assignments from,” Deskins said. “The transition has been good for us … so far I could not be more proud of how our students and staff are adjusting.”
The concerns for virtual learning and career-tech schools are unique, though, since students typically spend part of their day in labs, focusing on hands-on experiences.
“It’s difficult to teach the experiential side of labs,” Deskins said.
Deskins said another challenge students are facing now is how they will earn enough hours to obtain certifications.
“We are hoping the state will provide consideration for obtaining certifications,” Deskins said. “[For example,] cosmetology students have to have 1,000 hours of instruction under a licensed cosmetologist. If the state doesn’t lax these regulations, we’ll have a whole group of kids in trouble trying to complete and earn licenses. This crosses a number of programs and certifications. It’s a different beast for us.”
As uncertainty looms for the future — including whether or not students will return to the building for the end of the school year or how and if graduation will be held — the superintendent remains positive.
“These are trying times. I think the real focus is — a lot of people are adjusting to this, a lot of people I think are responding well within the career center,” he said. “They seem to understand that there is a greater need right now amidst our communities, that we all must pitch in to do what we can to try to support that.”
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