SCRANTON, Pa. — Just before Thanksgiving, administrators at the Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County decided to close the school and teach virtually until January 4 at the earliest.
The school in Scranton teaches vocational skills to students in eight different districts. It's not just reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Teachers like Rebecca Rinella are having to teach students about printing presses online.
"What I teach, none of these students have any of this equipment at home, zero of it. Most of my students are learning off of Chromebooks and iPads, so we can't really utilize the software that we normally use, so we have to kind of get creative," Rinella said.
The CTC used federal grants to purchase simulators that help instructors teach how to service a car's engine over Zoom and teach future nurses about anatomy using a smartphone app.
"I'm an old nurse, and we didn't have these kinds of things. I think it's excellent. It really truly is. It's beneficial for the kids," said Tammy Bauman, health occupations teacher.
Computer technology teacher John Moran says his students are learning real-life skills just by logging on to virtual lessons each day.
"I think the kids learning those skills and going into the IT world, that's something they can have under their belt," Moran said. "They learned how to do it in a pandemic. When you go out into the industry, what can be more stressful than that?"
They're virtually teaching the next class of essential workers.
"I was a little bit concerned that our students would be afraid, but the more you know, the less you fear. Our students are embracing it, not to mention, our students have the heart for it. They're compassionate, they want to help, they want to be a part of the community," said health occupations teacher Jennifer Savo.
CTC administrators say it's unclear how long they'll stick with virtual learning. They'll reassess after the new year.