Post-secondary students return to technical courses amid heightened COVID-19 screening
VICTORIA -- Walk into the dental clinic at Victoria's Camosun College campus and before the standard anxiety of a trip to the dentist's office hits you, staff are already taking your temperature and asking a barrage of COVID-19-related questions.
The post-secondary institution's clinic is one example in B.C. of how schools that teach hands-on technical courses have had to quickly adapt to the pandemic.
"The protocols are greatly enhanced," said Camoson's dental program chair, Mandy Hayre.
"The hands-on skills that students need to have in working with clients is something you cannot learn in a virtual environment."
The three-year dental hygiene program was forced to shut its doors when the first wave of the pandemic struck in March, but because of bolstered safety measures and classroom courses being shifted to virtual learning, hands-on training can now continue.
Students have returned to a more regimented way of operating in a place where things like hand washing and masks have always been normal.
"In the brunt of a pandemic I'm aware that it does make it more difficult for us as students," Julia Balogh told CTV News.
The second-year student says students are now asked to maintain a level of personal hygiene normal for a frontline healthcare worker in and outside of school.
Students also face daily COVID-19 temperature checks, increased hand washing requirements, bolstered personal protective equipment demands and a decreased number of human test patients due to pandemic regulations.
Inside the clinic, physical distancing is impossible so students must wear a mask and other protective equipment at all times.
"This year because of COVID they have had to set the bar even higher," said Balogh.
Camosun College says in many of its practical training programs, like dentistry and culinary arts, safety requirements were already very high and work to ensure they could launch them again this fall was done throughout the summer.
"I think it is really making it real for students," said Hayre. "Now there is just a heightened awareness for everybody."
Camosun says a new intake of students in its dental hygiene program will enter into the first ever pandemic protocol course next week.