Gateway Technical College welding graduate Makenna Glassman spoke to a bipartisan Congressional caucus August 26 on what it was like to train in an online format for a very hands-on career field during a pandemic.

Glassman, a Union Grove High School senior who completed a Gateway Welding Maintenance & Fabrication technical diploma this spring, was one of four panelists to speak to the U.S. House of Representative-Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus seeking to determine how COVID-19 affected CTE. Glassman represented the student perspective to the Congressional group.

“My spring semester was interrupted due to COVID-19 and being that my spring semester had started near the beginning of the pandemic, we had lost 30 hours of hands-on class time, which was hard for me because virtual learning is not my strength,” Glassman told lawmakers.

Glassman had already taken and passed the first six classes of the diploma, but told lawmakers she missed the hands-on training typically offered for that final course for the diploma. When asked, she encouraged lawmakers to consider addressing the technology divide that exists for some students to help them gain all the benefits being presented through online courses.

The caucus briefing, which was held in an online platform, was set up and hosted by the Association for Career and Technical Education, a group that represents thousands of career and technical educators from across the nation. It is the largest association of its kind in the United States.


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