At the onset of COVID-19, there were roughly 30,000 students enrolled in Job Corps Centers throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico. On March 16, the National Office of Job Corps established a Spring Break for all Job Corps Centers as a measure taken to minimize the threat of COVID-19. Upon receiving the Spring Break Program Instruction Notice, ResCare operated Job Corps Centers responded by successfully and safely ensuring the transportation of 868 students to their homes without incident and within time constraints.
To ensure continued staff and student engagement, we quickly developed a comprehensive “COVID-19 Job Corps Student and Staff Engagement Plan.” The plan provides guidance regarding student engagement and staff work and training both on and off Center during the Spring Break. It also includes a digital ResCare Toolkit that can be accessed online. There are resources within the toolkit to assist with training, continued education and employment services that can be accessed remotely at no cost to students or staff.
Always innovative, our Job Corps Center staff have created different ways to engage and have fun with our students that include filming “We Miss You,” “Where Are My Students” and “Social Development” videos. The staff have also conducted hundreds of weekly calls to ensure the well-being of our students. Our centers have even provided incentives for students who have maintained routine contact throughout the break.
Our staff’s fluency and comfort in navigating multiple social media platforms that are popular with our students have been greatly enhanced as these platforms have been frequently used to relay essential (and non-essential) information to our students.
Currently, our Job Corps Centers are extremely busy planning their virtual “Welcome Back” parties. Job Corps will welcome students back through Distance Learning on May 11. Distance learning will be delivered in a variety of ways to include online (web-based) courses, mobile education, webcasts, podcasts, video learning, computer-based instruction and good old-fashioned hard copy (when necessary). Our Distance Learning programs have been designed to engage our students in learning activities that support gains in academics and career skills training and are an excellent way for students and staff to stay connected.
We continue to encourage our staff and students to stay safe while we work toward the day when they can return.