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Big Bend reopens workforce education labs

by Cheryl Schweizer
Staff Writer | May 22, 2020 12:15 AM

MOSES LAKE — Sometimes it’s just not possible to take the class online.

The workforce education building at Big Bend Community College was allowed to open its training labs to students this week. Big Bend classes, including workforce education, were moved online for spring quarter as part of the effort to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

Daneen Berry-Guerin, dean of workforce education, said hands-on instruction resumed this week for most workforce education classes. Auto mechanics, aviation maintenance, welding, industrial electrical technology and maintenance mechanics technology classes started this week. Flight instruction, CDL training and unmanned aerial systems (drone) classes start next week.

Colleges must meet a long list of requirements before they can reopen. Berry-Guerin said.

Workforce education enrollment dropped for the spring quarter. Some students lost a job and couldn’t continue, she said. Others, not knowing when hands-on instruction would resume, found jobs. The uncertainty around hands-on instruction caused others to defer enrollment.

Big Bend professors were required to limit the number of students in each class, she said. The class schedule is structured to limit the number of students.

Teachers are required to submit a list of students who are attending classes each day, and everyone entering the building is screened. Masks are required for students and staff, and social distancing is required in class.

That meant an auto mechanics instructor watched from a distance as a student worked on a car’s brakes Wednesday morning. An industrial systems technology instructor delivered his lecture while wearing a mask.

Each program had to write a plan to address its specific circumstances, Berry-Guerin said. The guidelines were based on criteria established for the construction industry.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald Wearing protective equipment, Big Bend Communty College workforce education instructor James Ayers teaches a class Wednesday morning.