CLTCC in Forefront of Safely Returning to On-Campus Instruction

Alexandria, La., May 26, 2020 — Like most schools, Central Louisiana Technical Community
College (CLTCC) shifted to online instruction in an effort to protect the health and safety of its
students when Gov. John Bel Edwards announced statewide stay-at-home orders in March.
While online instruction is adequate to cover many academic programs, several of the
specialized workforce training programs offered by CLTCC, such as welding, manufacturing,
HVAC, carpentry, electrical and forestry, require hands-on experience and training that online
courses and simulations can’t currently match.

“Many of the programs we were able to transition to online instruction, but we have many
programs that rely on hands-on training to meet the competencies and objectives of the course
and of our workforce,” said Laurie Morrow, Natchitoches Campus Dean and CLTCC’s Loss
Prevention Coordinator.

Recognizing that need, school officials began working in April to make the adjustments needed
to safely allow students to participate in hands-on, on-campus instruction. By mid-May, a limited
number of students were able to return to on-campus classes.

“We are preparing students for the workforce,” CLTCC Chancellor Jimmy Sawtelle explained.
“So we adopted the best practices from the Central Louisiana business and industry we serve.
We have adopted similar practices they are using in regard to employee safety in their
workplace for the safety of our students and staff.”

In addition to local business and industry, officials worked with the Louisiana Community and
Technical Colleges System (LCTCS) and others, including the State Fire Marshal’s Office, for
guidance on “developing a plan for ensuring maximum student safety,” Morrow said. “We
created safety checklists for staff to manage students as they move through the process.”

Those practices include having a single point of entry, screening everyone entering the campus
by checking their temperature, asking a series of health questions, and requiring wearing of
face masks. The school also has a supply of personal protection equipment (PPE) for students
and guests as needed. In addition, CLTCC is promoting social distancing through reducing the
student-to-instructor ratio and employing space utilization such as strategic use of welding
booths.

“We purchased touchless thermometers for each campus so that we have the proper
equipment to scan and test each individual who comes on campus,” said Joseph Borne, Vice
Chancellor of Finance and Administration. “We also have a supply of PPE items, including face
masks, gloves, and goggles.”

In addition to individual safety items, Borne said the school has invested heavily in obtaining
cleaning materials to ensure all instructional areas are thoroughly cleaned to CDC guidelines.
“In addition to wipes and hand sanitizer, we also purchased fogging machines for each
campus,” Borne said. “They help make the sanitizing process faster and more thorough.”
Given the high demand for PPE and cleaning supplies, Borne said the school faced numerous
challenges to acquire the supplies needed to be able to safely allow even small numbers of
students and instructors on campus.

“We started working on this in mid-April,” Borne said. “We teamed up with Cenla vendors and
our Louisiana Community & Technical College System office to order in bulk.”
It’s a careful balancing act as school officials don’t want to interfere with the needs of health
care providers. “We are working with all of our vendors,” Borne explained. “We don’t want to be
stockpiling items our hospital workers need, as initially we donated our PPE to Cenla healthcare
providers. We’re trying to order on an as-needed basis,” he said noting they strive to have one
to two weeks’ worth of supplies on hand at any time.

Once the supplies and procedures were in place, the school was able to welcome back its first
set of on-campus students. “The first group was health occupation students,” Morrow said. “We
started with them so we could get them into the workforce to provide assistance with COVID19.”
Since then, other programs have resumed at eight campuses. “Students were informed early on
that it was voluntary. If they were not comfortable (returning to campus) we would work it out
and provide them time to complete their training, but they were all eager to return,” Morrow said.
“They were eager to get back in the welding booths and on the shop floor,” she said. “I think
they were looking for a sense of normalcy. They are ready to work, and they need these skills to
get into the workforce.”

The students were not the only ones happy to be back on campus. “The teachers were so
happy to see the students back in the training area,” Morrow said. “When all this started, one of
the hardest parts was making the faculty understand they couldn’t come to campus. They all
wanted to be there to provide whatever their students needed.”
Students currently on campus are finishing their course work from the spring semester. CLTCC
officials plan to offer more hand-on classes during the summer session, which starts June 1.
Ultimately, the goal is to return to full on-campus instruction for the Fall semester, which begins
August 17.
“That’s one of the greatest hurdles, trying to slowly open the campus because people are
excited and eager to come back,” Morrow said. “What we have done to finish out the Spring
semester has been a great dress rehearsal for the summer and fall. It has given us an
opportunity to put some of these protocols in place.”

Borne agreed the phased in approach to student return has been effective as it gave school
officials the opportunity to identify and overcome challenges to ensure the creation of a safe
environment for students and faculty. “The ultimate goal is to have everyone back in the fall
training and getting ready for the workforce in a safe and sanitary atmosphere.”

Enrollment for the Summer and Fall sessions is ongoing. To enroll and register, visit
www.CLTCC.edu/apply. For more information, contact the school via email at info@cltcc.edu or
call 800-278-9855.

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