Throughout the last year in college programs across the nation, a personnel scarcity has reared its head and varied opinions on the best way to deal with popping out of the COVID-19 pandemic had been heard.
With every new problem, districts and establishments throughout the nation stepped as much as deal with every with care, looking for the very best methods to seek out options that labored in every space.
Locally, each Jefferson and Berkeley counties centered efforts on recruitment and retention, profiting from some applications which have began on the state degree, reminiscent of TeachWV, which serves as a grow-your-own sort program.
“It’s a pilot initiative; it’s 19 of the 55 districts. I raised my hand right away when they called on it,” Berkeley County Superintendent Dr. Patrick Okay. Murphy mentioned. “We’re seeing this across the nation, not only in education but in other arenas: how do we prepare people for careers, especially in education?”
The grow-your-own side appears to be like at totally different pathways to encourage excessive schoolers in the state to enter the sector and to seek out alternatives inside the state.
“The clear and away is how our students in 11th and 12th grade begin to make the transition in education if that’s of interest to them,” Murphy mentioned. “We’re working with Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, and we’re also working with Shepherd University. As 11th and 12th graders, they begin that transition, earn some credits, continue on at Blue Ridge and complete two years there, be able to move to Shepherd University or WVU. That’s one of the paths to get students moving along in that direction.”
There are additionally efforts to assist people search different certification, which the state board is predicted to take motion on quickly, and to help people just some credit or credentials shy of certification who want to pursue education professionally. Both Jefferson and Berkeley counties have regarded into tuition reimbursement applications in addition to discovering methods to assist long-term substitutes or tutorial aides acquire full certification.
“This is a state-led initiative with the Department of Ed, and I think you also see this nationally,” Murphy mentioned. “Tennessee has a program; Virginia has a program that I’ve seen. I believe Kentucky has a program. (It’s) a lot of focus on talent management and development and getting people to pursue the field of education.”
In Jefferson County, the Board of Education authorised, inside the last year, a recruitment and retention plan with a number of phases that centered on every thing from social-emotional assist, allotted time in the constructing with out college students, provide stipends for service personnel and way more.
Murphy mentioned in Berkeley County, the employees has had good success recruiting bus drivers and a few service employees as these positions present good schedules for folks with youngsters already in college.
“That very nicely matched their schedules so they can be home for their kids,” Murphy mentioned. “The interesting thing is this is not a phenomenon unique to Berkeley County. This is something that a lot of districts are discovering, that the greatest asset lies with their families right there in their community.”
While college programs all over had been coping with worker shortages, so too, had been they coping with popping out of the COVID-19 pandemic and balancing the differing opinions on what’s greatest for college kids and employees alike.
“I think we’ve taken the necessary precautions,” Murphy mentioned. “I know there have been different options — and I respect that — but looking at the overall picture and where we are, I think we’ve taken a conservative and wise approach. I think that’s playing itself out as far as here we are now. We are near the end, and I’m looking forward to graduations. I know kids are looking forward to taking the next step in the transition.
“I think with all of this, it is emotional for everyone. I think we also want to make sure we keep kids safe, and I think that relying on the expertise and information of our folks in the medical field, who, I think, have done an exceptional job, is really the best course of action.
“I will say, when I’m dealing with the safety and well-being of other folks, I’m going to be just a conservative decision-maker.”
He gave full credit score to the employees for all of the work it did to ensure the protection of everybody was the highest precedence, and regardless of bumps in the highway, Murphy is assured the district is in a great place.
Both Jefferson and Berkeley counties handled the subject of masks as districts throughout the nation sought the very best solutions. After months of mandates, each moved to a mask-optional scenario early in the second semester.
While the pandemic was a scary time, college programs in any respect ranges realized classes, particularly the advantages of know-how in studying, the probabilities out there with distant studying.
Hagerstown Community College President Dr. James Klauber mentioned he sees alternatives in the long run to proceed with distant studying for lessons at his establishment, although labs will nonetheless want accomplished in particular person. That flexibility permits college students to benefit from studying irrespective of the life scenario or schedule, the president noting the inhabitants of scholars utilizing on-line studying has moved to 50% at present.
“The interesting thing is, that I think, March 2020, 18% of our students were taking online classes,” he mentioned. “It was 18% of our production that was online. Obviously, it went to 100%, and today, we’re now back to kind of normal operations. You’re really trying to meet student demand. Well, student demand is now demanding that we do more online than we’ve ever really done before, aside from the pandemic.”
He added that he doesn’t consider the quantity will keep as excessive because it at present is, however he’s assured it gained’t return to pre-pandemic numbers.
“Do I think it will continue there? No, I don’t,” Klauber mentioned. “I think it will continue to descend, but it will never be as low as 18% again. I think we get to about 30. We probably stay there at some point.”
Klauber additionally believes higher-learning institutes will transfer to extra digital settings for issues like college students providers and advising, now utilizing video platforms for a great little bit of providers.
“That is, I think, truly transformational from COVID,” Klauber mentioned. “I think the provision of student services, largely, is going to be done virtually in the future. Unless you need to bring a check down or something like that, I can’t really see a reason to (not be online).”
With a lot discuss revolving across the studying hole that was seen all through distant studying amid the pandemic, Murphy assured districts are doing what they’ll to maintain the education transferring ahead and to fulfill college students’ wants. He mentioned Summer Student Opportunities for Learning and Engagement will proceed in addition to the push for consistency and rigorous educational programs. Murphy assured scholar progress has been seen because the district screens numbers intently.
Specific to Berkeley County, the district may also proceed to focus vitality on CTE studying, permitting college students to see alternatives outdoors of conventional four-year settings in post-secondary life, to seek out no matter path most accurately fits every particular person.
“It’s not an either-or. I go to college or do this. I go into the military or this. It’s a combination of things,” Murphy mentioned, noting the reward in weighing all choices and discovering the very best path for every particular person.