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Old Dominion Job Corps embracing virtual outreach for student amid COVID-19 restrictions

The leaders of the Job Corps location in Virginia have embraced virtual communication to reach and continue to teach their students during this pandemic.

Those efforts were highlighted during a June 30 virtual breakfast, which marked a first for the Monroe center in interacting with stakeholders online as opposed to the usual in-person format.

With most Job Corps students sent home in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic Job Corp leaders knew they had to adapt the platform. In early May, the program switched to a virtual learning system to reach them remotely.

“We had to make some big changes,” Bryan Lyttle said of the adjustment that has brought difficulties.

The center, which has just recently joined the Eckerd Connects family, has 27 virtual classes up and running and the outreach includes videos with lessons for students to learn hands-on wherever they are.

The lack of in-person training for a variety of trades in recent months has been felt.

“That has been a massive challenge to our students,” Lyttle said.

Internet issues and housing also have been a challenge for the students, he said. The center is in the process of providing them with Chromebooks and counselors have called the youth weekly to keep them engaged, he added.

“It’s a challenge,” Lyttle said. “We’re going to make this work.”

Franklin Swann, manager of outreach and admissions, said the recruitment and outreach efforts remain in full gear despite the pandemic.

“We are very busy, working very feverishly to make sure our kids are taken care of,” Swann said. “We’re more active recruiting now than ever before.”

The center is conducting interviews with prospective students via Zoom, Google Meet, and other settings and completing applications virtually, he said.

The campus of just more than 300 acres has 275 students, a 90% occupancy, which is the highest in nearly four years, according to Swann.

“We’re very excited bout that,” he said, adding: “We take applications daily.”

Since traditional tours of the Job Corps campus can’t be held in person with the social distancing restrictions from the pandemic, he said its website has featured virtual tours to showcase the classrooms and facilities.

“It’s a great opportunity for folks to see what we look like without ever leaving their home,” Swann said.

“Old Dominion has never looked better,” Swann said. “We’re proud to show it off when we can.”

Old Dominion provides training in areas such as automobile and machine repair, carpentry, medical assisting, and pharmacy technician work, among others, plumbing, painting, electrical, and security and protective services. Students must qualify as low income and must be at least 16 years of age.

Article by JustinAmherst New Era Progress Newspaper

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Job Corps has trained and educated over two million individuals since 1964 nationwide.

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