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Marshall County Schools Dealing With Lack Of Hands-On Time

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept students from completing hands-on learning, but the class work continues regardless.

At Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Marshall County’s CTE and Adult Education Director Scott Varner spoke to the board regarding the recent landscape of its programs. Varner lamented that it had been difficult to provide quality instruction in many technical and career programs online, when they rely on more hands-on instruction methods.

In the interim, Varner said the programs have taken the time to get students certified through online testing while biding their time for a return to classes.

“It’s very difficult to deliver instruction when you don’t have students in person,” he said. “The difficulty with our folks in career tech is that 95 to 98 percent of instruction is hands-on, out in the shop or their work areas.

“What we ended up doing this summer, knowing that everyone would have iPads, was that we bought as many electronic resources and platforms for teachers to teach with,” he said.

Varner said that in-person education had been done sporadically in groups of around three students at a time, but Monday’s return to classes was well received.

Due to an inability to do in-person clinical sessions, the county was forced to pass on offering a nursing assistant certification. Yet Varner said students could be certified in patient care tech. Next year, he said, the certified nursing assistant program will come back. A pharmacy tech program was planned for this year, but that too was put on hold due to the pandemic. That is expected to return in the fall.

Varner added that teachers are finishing their training for computer science and bio-medical, which will mean the county has all three branches of Project Lead the Way’s programs up and running, with the engineering program already up.

He added that Marshall County was certified by the National Institute of Metalworking Skills and the American Welding Society for the county’s machine tool program and welding programs, respectively.

“We are the only comprehensive high school in the state that offers both of those certifications,” Varner said. “The only other site that offers both of those programs is a tech center in Clarksburg at the United Technical Center. We’re pretty proud of being able to provide students with those certifications, which is pretty important when they go out to get those jobs.”

Though the programs are based in John Marshall High School, Cameron High School students are able to participate in those programs if desired.

Additionally, Varner said the adult education programs through the county have continued since last May, reduced in number of participants but not beholden to the restriction on schools.

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