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How California community college vocational programs have adapted to COVID-19

Dec 6, 2020

"Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, 300 people a day got food and snacks from the student-run bakeshop, cafeteria and restaurant at Diablo Valley College. 

"The three eateries collectively let students in the school’s culinary arts program practice their vocation while earning $250,000 in annual revenue that went back into the program. 

"But when the pandemic thrust California into a lockdown, the student production of pastas, breads, entrees and breakfast items went dormant at Diablo, instruction moved online and college campuses across the state sat empty.

"Because of its hands-on nature, career technical programs like Diablo’s culinary program have struggled to adjust to severe restrictions on in-person learning. More than 75,000 California Community College students in the prior school year earned a degree, certificate or completed an apprenticeship tied to a vocational discipline, according to California Community Colleges data.

"Diablo’s culinary program eventually brought its students back to the classroom, but the process was long. It’s a pattern other career technical programs can relate to: shut down for the spring and move what’s possible online, then spend the summer planning for a partial return to in-person learning, often with fewer students."

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