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Thursday, 30 April 2020 15:30

CA Tech Schools Teach Virtually and Adapt to Pandemic

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Laura Salas, left, Contra Costa College collision repair faculty and automotive department chair, and instructor Peter Lock, right, are adapting to the pandemic and keeping all of their students on track. Laura Salas, left, Contra Costa College collision repair faculty and automotive department chair, and instructor Peter Lock, right, are adapting to the pandemic and keeping all of their students on track.

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Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) Director of Development Brandon Eckenrode is dealing with a nationwide dilemma, as tech school programs are either stalled or eliminated for the year.

 

“Late last week we received this note from a South Carolina collision instructor,” Eckenrode said. “‘The South Carolina Department of Education announced this week that the 2020-21 budget is on hold and we would use what was left for the 2019-20 school year for the 2020-21 school year, and those funds have been long gone.

 

"CREF understands that many businesses are navigating through this current situation for themselves,” he said. “Collision instructors will need the industry’s help now more than ever leading up to their fall school semester, as the situation for South Carolina collision school programs will be very similar for others around the country.

 

"We will be reaching out to the industry seeking support (monetary, in-kind donations) to help the schools and ensure these programs will have a ‘back to school’ to remember.”

 

Jason Warren, head of the collision repair program at Dos Palos High School in Los Baños, CA, has been running a one-man show for the past 15 years.

 

A 1990 graduate of the school, he has more than 60 students in three different classes and works hard to get internships for his best pupils.

 

Keeping his students in the fold is mission No. 1, Warren said, but many obstacles can get in the way.

 

“We sent them their homework packets to do their online assignments and most of them came back completed," Warren said. "One of the problems we have here is that it’s a farming community and 75% of our students don’t have a wireless connection, which can be an obstacle to virtual learning.”

 

Warren has been through a series of ups and downs at Dos Palos, so he’s not dissuaded by anything anymore. A decade ago, he almost lost his department entirely when the school’s industrial arts building was destroyed.

 

“It burned to the ground, but it wasn’t our fault,” he said. “It happened in our woodworking department, where lacquer and wood ignited. I am telling my students that we’re going to make it through this. But for right now we don’t have any answers for them about what’s going to happen next, and that’s unsettling.”

 

Program Head Daniel Perejas is proud of his curriculum at Eden Area ROP in Hayward, CA, a program he has worked to improve for the last 10 years. An I-CAR instructor and an industry veteran, Perejas is taking on all challenges and staying positive during the pandemic.

 

“Part of my job is keeping my students engaged and motivated, because it’s too easy to lose them right now," Perejas said. “We are using Google Classroom, which makes assignments a lot easier, and I have them taking classes from 3M and Collision Academy.

 

"I can’t ask them to do anything physical, so we’re doing things that we can do in place, like helping them to write their resumes and cover letters.”


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