COOLIDGE — The Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology is rolling out summer programing for students impacted by the COVID-19 school closures this past school year.
Summer programming for several of CAVIT’s areas of study including Medical Assisting, Nursing Assisting, Law Enforcement and Massage Therapy began on June 1.
“We were concerned that students were not able to successfully finish up their requirements for certification,” Superintendent Mike Glover told members of the Governing Board during the June 3 meeting, held via teleconference.
The summer courses will provide students with an opportunity to complete some of the requirements needed in order to earn their industry certifications.
While on campus, students and teachers are urged to practice social distancing, Glover said. In addition, as they enter the Career and Technical Education District’s main campus, students are required to submit to temperature checks and wear masks.
Classrooms have also been rearranged to follow guidelines recommending that a ratio of nine students to one teacher per class. However, despite the measures, the school has not been able to garner 100% participation among enrolled second year students in light of the pandemic.
Other students are unable to participate for a number of reasons, such as currently being enrolled in college courses or having already secured employment by relying on certifications they earned in their first year at CAVIT, Glover noted.
CAVIT will provide students unable to participate in this year’s summer program the option to return in the 2020-21 school year or the following school year to complete the requirements necessary to obtain the applicable industry certifications.
The options may prove fruitful for students enrolled in CAVIT’s allied health programs that are currently unable to meet some of the requirements needed to obtain their certifications, such as work-based learning, due to the continued closure to the public of health facilities like nursing homes.
Other hands-on learning opportunities traditionally provided on the CAVIT campus have also been impacted by COVID-19 with the suspension of free community clinics.
CAVIT typically offers the clinics to members of the community throughout the year as a way to offer students studying everything from message therapy to veterinary assisting a chance to gain hands-on experience.
But while the school may have reopened for students, it remains closed to the general public.
“Our clinics will not open up until things get back to normal status,” Glover said.
Offering summer learning opportunities on campus has also served as a beneficial pilot program for the CTED school to test the effectiveness of a number of technological safeguards and protocols that may be put into place next school year as Arizona schools prepare to reopen during the pandemic.
They include an online health questionnaire students are asked to fill out as they arrive to campus that may be part the new procedures implemented in the upcoming school year.
The district will reopen next school year with several safety and wellness protocols in place, Glover said. The new policies will begin with the district’s registration week, July 13-17.
Typically, parents are asked to come to the campus during registration week to sign enrollment forms, submit documentation for residency and pick up student uniforms. But ahead of the upcoming school year, only one parent will be allowed at the registration stations at any one time throughout the week.
With the district’s school year beginning on July 20, CAVIT is also examining three possible reopening scenarios.
The first is that the district would reopen as normal with health and safety measures such as social distancing in place, Glover said. The second option would allow the district to reopen in a virtual-only setting, while the third option would provide hybrid programing, giving students a combination of online and in-person time in the classroom on an assigned, rotational basis.
According to Glover, thus far, the district is leaning toward relying on a hybrid model for the school year. Under the combined virtual and in-person educational setting, students would spend only a portion of the week on campus and complete other necessary coursework online.
Virtual-only learning would still be provided to those students that are not ready to return to an in-person learning model in light of the progressing situation with the pandemic.
But the model may present some challenges for CAVIT and other districts seeking to implement it, Glover stated, citing that the formula for funding districts receive through the state does not recognize the model as a viable option.
Because students originate from 12 different districts around Pinal County, CAVIT may also be faced with unique complications when it comes to transportation in light of COVID-19 guidelines put out by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC guidelines on transportation, Glover said, only allow for one student per seat on school buses and require that every other row of seats be vacant.
“This is going to take a lot of coordination between us, between our students, parents and the high schools to ensure that we can bring students in for viable experience,” he said.
At the July meeting, board members will be asked to decide on which option the district will reopen with as part of a comprehensive reopening plan CAVIT will roll out.