Supporting CTE Students During School Closures due to COVID-19

With the coronavirus spreading across the nation, this time is challenging for education in general but specifically for CTE with all its hands-on courses. My district’s schools started to be out one day before Spring Break, which was during the week of March 16. We are going to be out for a total of five weeks of missed instructional time – until April 24 if it is not going to be extended.

At first, our district told parents, students, and teachers that there will not be any instruction –online or in any other form – due to legal guidelines for public schools to provide equal access for all and our district is very diverse in many aspects. However, once school closures lasted longer than expected, the district decided to develop resources (online, paper packets, PBS videos) for students in the four core academic areas of Math, English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies. No new content can be taught, everything is only for review to keep our students engaged. Nothing is graded, all assignments are optional due to the equity clause.

As a CTE Specialist, I support the Business & Marketing teachers in our district – we are not part of the four core academic areas. However, our teachers have the option to also keep their students engaged with review materials. With one exception: any course that carries an early postsecondary opportunity (EPSO) like an industry certification, dual credit etc. may teach new content, so as to provide those students already enrolled with the option to finish their credits through the third-party providers. A lot of our vendors have graciously expanded their free online access for both teachers and students – certainly in hopes of generating business for themselves down the road but for right now we are thankful for their resources.

Videos and online activities certainly cannot replace practicing skills hands-on as they are required in CTE courses like Transportation or Construction. However, I have to believe, this is all temporary. We are all doing our best to stay connected with our students and to help them through this strange time of uncertainty. We can find ways to make up for lost instructional time later!