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How do cosmetology students get the experience cutting hair or doing manicures, especially when teacher modeling and feedback is the major component of instruction?


In Ag classes, the animals still have to be fed and cared for, and many students’ animals are housed at the school’s ag barn.


Health Occupation students certainly cannot go into medical facilities for rotations.


Other hands-on subjects like automotive tech, welding, and carpentry seem all but impossible to do outside of the traditional school setting.


While teachers of all disciplines are facing the challenges of converting to virtual learning, Career and Technical Education teachers face particularly difficult challenges. There are very strict guidelines regarding student certification. A decision to go strictly to virtual learning is likely to have a detrimental impact on accreditation, licensure and certifications, and funding. States and industries are also having to get creative regarding students sitting for certification exams.


On a fundamental level, many CTE students may not be the strongest academic students but have their sights set on a blue-collar, vocational job, many of which pay quite well. These students are working towards being certified and ready to enter the workforce upon graduation.


Your school and district administrators will have to work out these details, but you will have to come up with some practical lessons and applications that your students can do at home regardless of how all the regulations play out. Some schools may only have temporary closures of a week or two, while others may be virtual for an entire semester. Regardless, you will likely have some students whose parents opt out of sending them to school, and they will have to receive all of their courses virtually since all students are promised a free and equal education.


Now more than ever, it is important to remember that you are not alone. CTE teachers around the world are working to convert their curriculum online so don’t be afraid to reach out to the global community to collaborate and share ideas.


The Association for Career & Technical Education has put together a guide for High-quality CTE: Planning for a COVID-19-Impacted Year that is free to download.


Blended learning like the Flipped Classroom Model is most likely the best option for CTE courses if possible. In this scenario, teachers provide lessons in the form of videos or text for students to study at home so that all of the time in class can be maximized for practice.


Much of your instruction is likely to come in the form of video demonstrations that you either create or find online (but make sure you closely review any videos that you do not create - look for accuracy, understandability, and appropriateness).


Depending on your program’s resources, you may be able to send students with at-home kits which include the tools and supplies needed to complete certain tasks. Thorough instruction and clear communication with the parents would be essential (especially if the project will require supervision).


Another option to consider is the use of mobile labs that can be driven to various areas in the community. Student groups of less than 10 could be scheduled to work in the lab while following specific safety and health protocols with the lab being disinfected after each group.


Our goal here is to share some links and resources available for you to use as supplements as you plan for the likelihood of having to go to virtual instruction at some point during the upcoming school year.

Career Exploration

Day at Work Videos: The National Center for College & Career created videos that show students what an actual day on the job is several different fields looks like.


Explore Work is a talent/interest inventory that can help students identify a career goal

Virtual Connections

Nutrients for Life has lessons, videos, and simulations for ag teachers.


Nepris connects classrooms with industry professionals in a virtual platform.

Health Occupation Students

Distance Learning for Nursing


Oregon Board of Nursing’s virtual options for  clinical experiences

Other Resources

U.S. Department of Education’s Simulated Work-Based Learning: Instructional Approaches and Noteworthy Practices


Promising Practices and Design Principles in Career and Technical Education Delivered via Distance Learning Technology


Learning in the Digital Age: A Review of the Research on Innovative Technologies


CTE on the Frontier: Strengthening the Rural CTE Teacher Pipeline


CTE Distance Learning in Rural Communities


How COVID-19 Is Forcing Innovation in High School-Industry Partnerships


Now Streaming: Strategies That Improve Video Lectures


The Gamification Guide: The How-to Companion for Every Classroom Teacher


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