HAMLIN – One of the less discussed effects COVID-19 has had is on the adult education program in West Virginia, which like its peers in public and college have had to make some major adjustments as the global pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life.
The program offers adults a variety of educational opportunities including High School Equivalence Diploma (GED) Readiness, TABE Assessment, ACT Preparation, Career and Life Skills, Microsoft Office Certification, Basic Understanding of Multiple Subjects, and more more. The program is aimed at people in all walks of life – from people who want to keep their GED to people who want to brush up on their language or math skills.
Thanks to state and federal funding, courses are offered completely free in nearly all counties. Enrollment is open all year round and lessons are tailored to specific needs.
Chanda Perry is the primary adult education instructor in Lincoln County. Since the pandemic began, her classroom at 353 Walnut Street in Hamlin has functioned a little differently than before.
“It created a lot of obstacles for us and our students,” said Perry. “I had to measure everything in the classroom to make sure everyone was two meters apart. Everyone has their own trash can and disinfectant. Everyone must wear a mask and be checked out before entering the classroom. When they are here and we can receive a personal tutoring, they will have to go to the bathroom one by one. You will need to use a disinfectant wipe to wipe everything before and after you leave the toilet. Hence there are many strict protocols. “
In addition, the use of refrigerators and microwaves is now banned, and the classroom size for personal teaching is limited to eight people. Prior to the pandemic, Perry said her classroom had an average of 15 or more people.
Virtual enrollment and tuition is offered for someone who is uncomfortable with in-person tuition or otherwise unable to attend due to other factors such as class capacity. On a table in front of Perry’s classroom is a laptop that shows her instructions for those enrolled in virtual classes.
“I can take them to a Zoom meeting and it’ll point at my whiteboard,” Perry said, “so I can still give them virtual directions and do examples on the board.” It really would be like they were sitting in the classroom. “
For students on the program without internet access, Perry can send paper packages that are in a pre-stamped envelope that can be returned to them upon completion.
“The biggest challenge is not to lose what you have learned,” Perry said, “and especially when it comes to math, that one-on-one interaction is a use or a loss, and if you don’t personally have it . ” -face interaction with me, they tend to resort to their math. Before we closed in the spring, I had two girls who literally had to do a job readiness assessment the next day and pass it with me before I could set them up with a state examiner. In the truest sense of the word, you should assess your readiness for work the next day and switch us off. Then they had to wait months, and then we had to come in and find out everything they’d lost in the past few months. It’s frustrating for them. “
The adult education program closely follows the guidelines for the public school system. As per directions from Governor Jim Justice, face-to-face tuition is typically suspended when the county is red on the West Virginia Department of Health and Personnel’s daily tracking map.
“We’re separated from the public school system, but we’ve tried to follow that,” said Perry. “I would have face-to-face tuition all the way to Orange, but when the numbers started going up they told us to secure ourselves and not have face-to-face tuition if the county was orange or red. Now we’re back, depending on the governor’s orders that it’s only in red. We kind of keep track of what the high schools do. When the county is red, we only teach virtually. “
Perry usually teaches Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. She is the only person in the building, so she reserves about three hours every Friday afternoon following the instruction to thoroughly clean and sterilize the entire building.
Logan County’s adult education program consists of two classes – the Ralph R. Willis Career and Technology Center, taught by Michael York, and the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, taught by DeShawna Toler. For more information on York’s class call 304-752-4687 or email [email protected]; For more information on Toler’s class call 304-792-7098 or email [email protected]
For more information on adult education in West Virginia and a list of class locations in each county, visit www.wvadulted.org.
Another part-time teacher, Sheila Burns, teaches courses in different parts of the county for Lincoln County students. Burns are available in the following locations:
- Monday, 4:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Daily Reporting Center, Lincoln County Corrections Center.
- Monday 5pm to 8pm: Hamlin Public Library.
- Wednesday 11 am-3pm: Alum Creek Library.
- Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Guyan River Public Library, Branchland.
Perry said Burns is also available for makeup day Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 3 p.m.
“This is really good for someone who is working and who wants to work a few hours to work towards that,” Perry said. “That’s just something, I’m not the only game in town. It also does that because not everyone here has means of transport. So if someone lives on the other end of the county and is closer to Alum Creek, they’ll be easier to access. We try in every possible way to be available and do what we can. “