Career and Technical Education programs across the state are preparing to offer in-person classes to high school students in July. It could be the first time students take classes in a school building since the pandemic began.
The Indiana Office of CTE issued guidance telling schools that, beginning July 6, they can offer a “summer bridge program” to students whose courses were disrupted by COVID-19. However, the timeline could change if Indiana doesn’t progress to the final stage of the state’s “Back On Track” plan.
Patrick Biggerstaff is the CTE director of a career center in Indianapolis. He also sits on a Governor’s Workforce Cabinet group on reopening. He says several CTE courses require hand-on experience in order for students to get certifications.
“When looking at a subject area like automotive service or welding, it’s important that students have time to demonstrate skill proficiency and to work hands-on with equipment that will be used in industry,” he says.
He says conversations with the Governor's Workforce Cabinet working group have been about balancing their first priority – student safety – with getting back to regular instruction as quickly as possible.
"So they're, in essence, piloting what coming back in the fall semester might look like," he says.
The guidance says physical distancing will be required and classrooms can be filled to no more than 50 percent capacity. Students and instructors are encouraged to wear masks and sanitize equipment between classes. Schools will also have a mandatory reporting system to document positive COVID-19 cases and are told they should contact the health department immediately.
Actual start dates and program details could vary as many career centers will need to get approval from their local school district.