CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Career and technology schools train students for a variety of professions, many of which are hands-on. With COVID-19 protocols, how have these schools held up against the pandemic?
In Bellefonte, the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology has been able to continue socially-distant, in-person learning. In fact, they’ve even seen higher enrollment numbers for some programs because of the pandemic.
“We have been in person all year, except 13 days,” says MaryAnn Volders, vice president of secondary education at CPI. “We feel like we’re getting the job done in our schools because we’ve been in session in Centre County.”
Volders says their students need the hands-on experience to be credible and ready for their careers.
“They’re going out to be automotive technicians, they’re going out to be dental assistants, so, they have to be able to do that hands-on component immediately,” says Volders.
75 percent of their courses are hands-on, but every course has some component of bookwork. If there’s a need to go virtual, Volders says students will focus on that text.
“How can you go out and run heavy equipment, if you can’t run heavy equipment?”
The pandemic has caused many people to rethink their career paths, and Volders says it’s noticeable among their high school students.
“We’re keeping visitors out for the most part, and our numbers are still going up,” says Volders. “People see the need for career and technical education and they’re still enrolling.”
She says the adult population has been more cautious and more hesitant to enroll for in-person opportunities.
“We’re actually learning to think a bit younger and think a little bit differently as a result of the pandemic.”
Enrollment for medical fields… is surging.
“Practical nursing numbers… are off the charts because people want to go into nursing and want to help others,” says Volders.
She says they’ve also learned to be more compassionate and flexible through the pandemic because you never know what a student is going through outside of the classroom.