By Laura Howard
Special to the Observer
Access CVU, which offers courses at the high school for community members in a variety of topics, had to pivot quickly this semester to comply with the COVID state guidelines that stated no public access to educational buildings.
At a crossroads, we had two choices: either postpone the program to the fall of 2021, or embrace virtual and outdoor learning.
We sent a survey to our Access members and had an overwhelming response from the public to continue offering classes in any capacity possible. So, to meet the needs of the community, we started to work with our instructors to offer online and outdoor classes. With a very limited budget and only a team of two, myself and Jen Morton, we managed to offer 156 classes this semester.
Thankfully, last fall we had transitioned to using an online registration platform. Many members already had user accounts, so enrollment and online payment was easy. We are fortunate to have for the third year in a row CVU senior Isaac Krementsov volunteer his time to help instructors and community members with any technical, Zoom or computer issues. This has been a huge asset for many of our partners that were intimidated to take or host an online class. To date, we have had 745 registrations and still have 40 new class offerings that have not yet started.
It was not feasible to produce the famous “Access Brochure” this year, so we got creative with our advertising. We used Front Porch Forum, social media, local newspapers and started a weekly newsletter highlighting upcoming classes.
Some of our class highlights this semester include:
• Watercolor for Beginners
• Carving in Wood
• Ethiopian Injera
• Intro to Kickboxing
• Primitive Fire Building
We send out surveys after completion of each class so that we can improve upon the experience and give feedback to our instructors. The silver lining for Access this year is that we can now reach communities near and far with virtual learning. Although nothing beats the in-person connection, we will continue to offer enrichment and enjoyment with virtual options. We are currently planning the winter/spring semester that begins in February. Virtual classes will begin the semester, and as the weather warms in late spring, we are hopeful to offer outdoor learning again in May/June.
Visit www.cvsdvt.ce.eleyo.com for more information and to register for classes.
Laura Howard is the program director for Access CVU. This article was originally published on the CVSD story blog (www.cvsdstory.blogspot.com