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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Programs at community colleges and technical schools that require hands-on learning — like welding or auto repair — have a unique challenge as they try to stay open while keeping students safe.

Why it matters: One-third of higher education students enrolled last spring were from a community college. And their student bodies are often higher-risk than traditional colleges', with more students who work, come from communities hit hard by the virus, or are older.

Where it stands: Two-year programs are attempting to provide workarounds for their curriculum this fall in order to stay open while also preventing the spread of COVID-19.

  • Schools couldn't guarantee the safety of students who needed to be on-site to complete their certifications last semester, delaying their graduation. Colleges are trying to make sure that doesn't happen again.
  • Waubonsee Community College in Illinois will have hybrid courses for its welding, HVAC installation and automotive programs, staggering when students need to come to their class labs.
  • Manchester Community College added augmented reality and virtual reality to its computer science program for remote learning. Its nursing and technical programs have class cohorts, temperature checks and designated restrooms.
  • Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College spent the summer converting its program online for students who don't feel comfortable attending in-person.

Yes, but: Despite the preparation, there are no guarantees classes won't be shut down if cases emerge.

The bottom line: It can be difficult for some technical programs to be taught completely online. And if schools can't guarantee student safety, their certifications could suffer.

Go deeper

Southern California, San Joaquin Valley face new stay-at-home order

A sign in Los Angeles. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Southern California's ICU capacity fell to 12.5% and San Joaquin Valley's to 8.6% on Saturday, triggering the state's new stay-at-home order in the two regions.

Driving the news: Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a three-week stay-at-home order on Thursday that would go into effect in regions with less than 15% ICU capacity.

Dec 5, 2020 - World

Russia begins distributing its coronavirus vaccine in Moscow

Photo: Sergei Karpukhin\TASS via Getty Images

Russia began distributing its coronavirus vaccine on Saturday, making Sputnik V available at 70 different locations around Moscow.

Driving the news: The immunization effort comes days after Russian President Vladimir Putin directed officials to begin large-scale vaccination against the virus, despite widespread criticism from scientists worldwide over the Sputnik V vaccine's safety and effectiveness.