GNTC steps up health and safety measures for fall semester

GNTC cosmetology student Brittany Crowder works on a manicure during an in-class session on the Floyd County campus.

As the world continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia Northwestern Technical College has stepped up its health and safety measures for the fall semester.

“The focus of Georgia Northwestern Technical College is the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff,” said Elizabeth Anderson, vice president of academic affairs. “We are also encouraging students to consistently check their student email for official college announcements and Blackboard for all course announcements.”

The college is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines by having limited in-person class sessions and expanding online programs.

GNTC maintenance staff disinfect all classrooms at the end of each day and fog all GNTC campuses every weekend with hospital-grade disinfectant.

Students who choose to attend on-campus classes are following the same guidelines across GNTC’s six campuses. All GNTC students, faculty and staff are wearing masks and socially distancing. In classrooms, open seats are left between students to ensure social distancing.

The Dental Assisting program is one example of how GNTC programs have adapted to new on-campus learning procedures. According to program director Allison Patnode, she has limited her class and lab to half of its normal capacity. Patnode and her students also wear masks during their sessions.

Additional sections of courses and additional seats are available online this fall to accommodate students who do not wish to attend classes in person, said Anderson. GNTC is also offering hybrid options for some courses.

Cosmetology classes are now in the hybrid format, which allows students to come onto campus and practice what they have been learning. According to instructor Susan Stephens, students spread out through the newly renovated lab in order to maintain social distancing.

“Every student has the chance to come into class and work on what they have been learning under instructor supervision,” she said. “Students are also using their cosmetology kits to work on different techniques at home and record their process.”

Cosmetology student Shaina Underwood explained the class is set up with online videos and assignments for her and her 31 classmates to complete. Instructors share their feedback and grade the assignments before the students come onto campus to practice the hairstyles they have been working on.

For classes offered completely online, instructors are working with new ways to meet student needs.

Brittany Cochran, instructor of biology, said she has found new software that shows her online students 3D models of human anatomy. The models are helping students keep the hands-on approach traditionally found in a classroom setting. Cochran said she is still able to meet with her students virtually for lectures or if they have questions.

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