Open trade and tech schools

Education from kindergarten through graduate school stalled when governments and school leaders took strong measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

While some education can take place at home and online, schools ultimately need students in the classroom, with proper protective measures to protect students, teachers, and families.

In no field will that return be more complicated than in technical and trade schools.

It’s essential that millions of students looking for career training can pursue their dreams by learning auto repair, nursing certification, welding, cosmetology, massage therapy, or the many other careers that require hands-on training.

With coronavirus a long-term threat, trade and technical schools must create plans to get students back in school and get the training they need — and plan to integrate off campus learning into classes more than the current makeshift efforts currently available.

Staggered class hours, social distancing to the degree possible, and automation are among the answers. While much education will remain in the realm of remote teaching, video lessons, and hands-on experience can be obtained at home and in the neighborhood. Creative thinking already has created new options in coronavirus times.

Students can give manicures and haircuts to family members or take apart and put back together a family member’s or relative’s car. Some nursing skills like taking blood pressure and checking other vital signs can also take place at home — if schools get the necessary equipment into the hands of students.

In one New York high school, nursing assistant students were taught to give a bed bath by a teacher using a family doll in a video classroom, according to the Associated Press. In Missouri, agriculture students learn that no greenhouse was no problem. Instead the teacher had them tend plants at home and report daily on progress and changes in the growth of their plants.

Not all career education can take place virtually, certainly not in the nursing field.

Phlebotomy, for instance, cannot be taught with dolls. Drawing blood will require hands on training. With careful safety procedures with personal protective equipment in place, the risks to student, teacher and patient can be minimized.

Training for careers simply can’t be put on hold forever, because generations of older tradesmen and women will be retiring over the years and jobs in service industries will be in demand and often pay well. About 30 million Americans hold jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree yet pay a median income of $55,000, according to the Association for Career and Technical Education.

For many students, college isn’t the career path they want and need. Trade and technical schools give students the skills required for a good-paying job or to go into business for themselves.

Making the education for those jobs possible and safe in an era when coronavirus will likely be a threat over the years is an essential task for education officials and teachers.

The federal government and states should devote resources to make sure trade and career education can adapt to challenging times.

— Toledo Blade; Online: