Jobs and work experience hard to find for high school students during pandemic - Global News

Jobs and work experience hard to find for high school students during pandemic - Global News


Jobs and work experience hard to find for high school students during pandemic - Global News

Posted: 04 May 2021 12:50 PM PDT

Emma Matiejewski has been trying to get a job. That hasn't been easy for the 18-year-old in Edmonton, Alta.

"So far I've only gotten two interviews," said Matiejewski, "and the two interviews I have gotten, no luck.

"With the pandemic, people aren't really hiring."

Read more: Alberta's current COVID-19 status worse than every province and state: Former top doctor

Matiejewski said she applied to entry-level jobs in retail and restaurants, but business owners have been forced to cut staff and their hours to accommodate provincial health restrictions.

Only outdoor dining, delivery and curbside pickup are allowed in Alberta right now.

Read more: Alberta restaurants close to in-person dining as COVID-19 restrictions take effect

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With the COVID-19 caseload outpacing every other part of the country, Premier Jason Kenney said more restrictions are likely to be delivered soon.

Read more: Kenney says new COVID-19 restrictions likely coming to Alberta on Tuesday as health crisis worsens

Matiejewski said the jobs she didn't get were filled by people with more experience, but she stressed it's difficult to gain any experience when high school students have been pushed online and told to stay home.

"It's kind of hard with the pandemic because you can't really go out and do anything, you have to sit at home if you're not working. It's just hard."

Graduating students trying to gain work experience to determine their career path have also been shut out of work places.

Katie Sattler, a Grade 12 student in Calgary, Alta., said she did an online mentorship program but being able to job shadow for real-life experience was not possible this year.

"Being able to meet people and see what they do has been kind of non-existent because of the pandemic."

Sattler and a group of friends found a solution.

Last year, they pitched a networking website to Technovation, a competition that addresses real-world problems in their community.

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"What do you want to do after high school?" they asked. It's a question the team said many students ask themselves and rarely feel confident in their answer.

The group placed first in Alberta for Joy to Job and among the Top 14 in the international competition.

Sattler, Bridget Ferguson and Grace Attalla said after hearing from fellow students and parents, they decided to continue with Joy to Job and feel it's even more helpful during the pandemic.

"Even though you're not at the job or the field, I think you get an honest reflection of what their career is like," said Attalla.

Attalla and Sattler said reading a blurb about a career on a website isn't enough. Many students want to know the "day-to-day life" of a specific job.

"You really get to hear, I think, the stories of the professionals," said Attalla.

"We've had directors of big companies say like, 'I failed a course in university and that's OK.' Stuff like that, that you really don't hear going online or in different professional settings."

"A big theme has been like, it's OK to fail and it's OK to kind of have a plan and that gets messed up," reiterated Sattler, "and of course with the pandemic, that's sort of everybody's plans have been tossed away."

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Joy to Job has covered a wide range of careers in fine arts to engineering to business.

The last webinar focused on the sciences. The Joy to Job team was able to sign up a chemist, neuroscientist and an ecologist.

The group wants to expand its reach to students and professionals in other parts of the province and have teachers share Joy to Job with their students.

The next webinar is scheduled on May 18, 2021. The focus is on computers and technology. Students can register at joytojob.com or sign up on an email list for future webinar dates.

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Joy to Job webinars connect high school students with professionals. Supplied

Attalla, who plans to head to university for engineering science, said she was surprised to get the most out of the fine arts webinar.

"I'm definitely not going into fine arts," said Attalla.

"One of the things that really stuck out to me in that webinar was you need to advocate for yourself, you need to ask the question because you'll never know what the answer will be and maybe you'll have a great opportunity."

Matiejewski isn't sure of her career path yet. She wants to save up for college and said getting a job is the first step to independence so she can stop relying on her parents.

"If I want something I have to be like, 'Can I have some money please?'

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"I'm just really hoping to get anything."

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

MHS Announcements – May 4, 2021 | Discover Muscatine - Discover Muscatine

Posted: 04 May 2021 11:51 AM PDT

** Daily News & Information ** Home of the Muskies!

We are continuing to follow CDC and public health COVID-19 guidelines. Wearing your mask is mandatory at all times in the classroom and in the hallways. Masks must cover your nose. Gaiters are not acceptable mask coverings.

MHS Attendance Office: 563-263-6616 x1133 or [email protected]

Announcements in Green – New
Announcements in Blue – Previous Day
Announcements in Black – 2 or more days old (per request)

** Daily News & Information **

MHS Daily Schedule       2-Hour Early Out Schedule        2-Hr Late Start Schedule

  • TONIGHT! MHS Percussion Concert: The MHS Band Dept. will hold their Percussion Concert on Tuesday, May 4th at 7:30PM in the MHS Auditorium. There is no fee to attend! This event will not be live streamed. There will be ushers to help with spacing out groups of people.  Masks are required.
  • Senior Obligations (fees & fines) and Silver Cord recipients are posted outside of Student Services by Student ID #. Senior obligations must be paid to pick up cap & gown on May 21st.
  • REMINDER! Academic Awards, Senior AP Medals, Silver Cord recipients and the Perfect Attendance recipient list is posted outside of the Student Services office. They are listed by Student ID # of the students who qualify for an award. Please check the lists to see if you are on the appropriate list before May 7th, 2021.  If you are not on a list and feel you should be, check with Melody Edkin in Student Services. 
  • Excellence in Ed Recipients: Excellence in Education provides scholarships for graduating seniors and current eighth-graders. It also honors outstanding staff who have made an impact on the lives of our students. The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust has funded the Excellence in Education scholarship program for over twenty-five years. Excellence in Ed Recipients
  • REMINDER: Academic Awards, Senior AP Medals, Silver Cord recipients and the Perfect Attendance recipient list is posted outside of the Student Services office. They are listed by Student ID # of the students who qualify for an award. Please check the lists to see if you are on the appropriate list before May 7th, 2021.
    If you are not on a list and feel you should be, check with Melody Edkin in Student Services.

    Qualifications for Academic Awards this year are as follows:
    Sophomore who has 3 consecutive semesters of 3.0 GPA and above.
    Junior who has 5 consecutive semesters of 3.0 GPA and above.
    Senior who has 7 consecutive semesters of 3.0 GPA and above.

    The 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students listed are invited to the Academic Awards Program, during the appropriate time on May 13th in the MHS Auditorium.
    Parents are also invited to the Awards Program and will need to check in at the Attendance Center. Please note times for each grade level below. Masks must be worn.


    Thursday, May 13th
    9:00 am – Seniors
    10:00am – Juniors
    1:00pm – Sophomores

    (9th grade students who have achieved perfect attendance this year will receive their award in the mail.)
  • Activities/Athletics Info: See Activities/Athletics section below and MHS Official Activities Site
  • Job Opportunities:  See Job Opportunities section below.
  • Silver Cord Opportunities: See Silver Cord section below.
  • FFA Weekly, May 3-9: FFA Weekly
  • 11th & 12th Grade Students – ROTC Visit: If you are interested in learning more about ROTC, you are invited to a visit to UNI on Wednesday, May 5th. You do not necessarily have to be interested in attending UNI. This is a visit to learn more about the ROTC scholarship program. If you have questions or interest in going on the visit, please contact Mrs. Hawkins by the end of the day Monday, May 3rd. 
  • Lost and Found: Stop at the Attendance Center if you have lost jewelry, wireless headphones, charging cases, water bottles, etc.  You will need to provide a description of the item you have lost.
  • ACT Academy Test Prep: All students have free access to the ACT Academy test prep online. The link below includes the instructions for log in whether you have or have not logged in in the past. Please contact Mrs. Hawkins with any questions.  ACT Academy Test Prep
  • 2021 Muscatine County Fair Queen Competition: It is hard to believe that we are already starting to think about fair 2021! Once again we are looking for young women to run for the title of 2021 Muscatine County Fair Queen. Entry Deadline: May 14, 2021.  Muscatine Co. Fair Queen Application
  • FREE MEALS for all kids 18 (older when enrolled in school) and under. (USDA announced that they would be extending the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)). We will also provide a pick-up site at Central for parents, guardians or a designee (such as an older sibling) to pick up meals for multiple days for those not attending school in person, too young to attend school and weekend meals.  Survey to pick up meals at Central
  • Parents and Guardians: Our school utilizes the School Messenger system to deliver text messages, straight to your mobile phone with important information about events, school closings, safety alerts and more.*  You can participate in this free service* just by sending a text message of "Y" or "Yes" to our school's short code number, 67587.  See flyer for more information.   SMS Text Opt-In Flyer.pdf
  • 2020-21 Driver's Ed information can be obtained from the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency (MBAEA) Drivers Ed Information

** Athletic/Activities Information **

  • Muscatine Summer Youth Volleyball Camp for students entering grades 5th-8th grade – August 12th & 13th from 3:30-5pm at the MHS VanHecke Center.  Cost: $40 per camper.  Please contact Coach Russell with any questions at [email protected]  Registration forms are due July 16th to guarantee a t-shirt. Walk-ins will be accepted however t-shirt is not guaranteed. Muscatine Youth Volleyball Camp Info & Registration Form
  • Open mat wrestling workouts available to all MHS students beginning April 1 in the wrestling room from 4-5 pm.
  • Visit MHS Official Activities Site for updates to schedules, rosters & directions.
  • Follow @MuskieAD on Twitter for MHS activities & athletic updates and information.
  • Athletic Forms: Parent Permission Form    Concussion Form     Physical Form

** Forms **

  • Online Transcript Request Form:  Muscatine High School Transcript Request Form
  • Silver Cord Form:  Students recording hours of volunteer service during their years at MHS will be awarded a Silver Cord to wear at graduation. In order for volunteer hours to count towards a Silver Cord, students must complete the online form to verify. Silver Cord Form
  • BookDash Service: The MHS Library is continuing to offer our BookDash service!! Any student who needs (or wants) more books to read during virtual learning can complete the BookDash order form. * More information is available on the MHS Library website or the linked flyer. Curbside pick up is recommended!
    *All visitors entering MHS must use the front doors and masks are required. Books must be picked up within one week of the 'ready email'. Email Mrs. Keltner at [email protected] with questions!
  • Vehicle Registration Form/Parking Tags: If you are a new driver to MHS and do not have an MHS Parking Tag, you will need to pick up & complete a Vehicle Registration Form. Vehicle Registration Form  Students that have a parking tag from last year will continue to use that parking tag. If you no longer have the parking tag, please stop in the Student Services office.
  • DOT Minor School License Form: DOT Minor School License Form Forms are available in the MHS Main Office – Rm-11-001. (You must have completed Driver's Ed in order to submit this form.)  Instructions: Please complete Sections 1 and 3. (Leave Section 2 blank) and return to the Main Office. 

** Fundraisers **

  • 2nd Annual MHS Baseball Fundraiser – Mattress Sale at the Van Hecke Center – May 22nd from 10am-5pm.  Mattress Sale Information
  • Muskie Store is Open! The district has partnered with Phelps Custom Apparel to offer our staff, families, and community Muskie Apparel! This online store does not close meaning that it remains open for all of your Muskie clothing needs throughout the year.
    Go to: Phelps Muskie Store and check it out!
  • Jostens Muskie School Store:  Do you want Muskie Spirit Wear/Accessories or to give as a gift?
    Visit 
    Jostens Muskie School Store
    SAVE10 – $10.00 off all products, minimum purchase of $75
    SSOFF10 – 10% off all products

** Job Opportunities **

  • Job Opportunity: Burger King. Apply online at: BeatonJobs.com or Text: "JOBS1769" to 844-863-8562. Must be 15 years-old to apply. Burger King Job Info
  • Are you a student interested in a career in firefighting and EMS? Check out the Muscatine Fire Department Explorer Program! Contact Mrs. Hawkins for details. MFD Explorer Info
  • Seniors: Temp Associates has summer jobs available in Assembly and Mig Welding.  Pay range of $13 to $15 an hour. Positions are also available if you are looking for full time career opportunities. Stop by the office at 104 Cleveland St., next to HyVee, or call 563-263-6589.
  • Juniors – Temp Associates is looking for candidates for internship opportunities for the 2021/2022 school year.  Internship opportunities include: welding, drafting, engineering, and marketing. Please go to the office located at 104 Cleveland St., next to HyVee, or call (563)263-6589. 
  • Seniors – Production position available: Manpower Temp Agency is a staffing service for a local production facility who is looking for people that are eager to work and can work any shift.  They produce and package product for shipment. This is a temp-to-hire position so it can lead into a full time permanent position based on attendance and productivity.  The starting pay is $13.50/hr paid weekly.  Manpower also offers medical insurance and 401K after 90 days of employment with us.  We also offer continuing education.  If anyone is interested, please contact Cynthia Monday – Friday from 8 am – 5 pm at 319-237-3113 or email [email protected]
  • The Chore Program at Senior Resources of Muscatine is looking for young adults 16 years of age or older to work or volunteer their time as independent chore contractors providing lawn care this summer for seniors living in Muscatine. This can be a paid or a volunteer position. If anyone is interested you can contact John Bryant at 563-263-7292 or e-mail to [email protected]
  • Summer Conservation Jobs with Muscatine County Conservation Board.  Must be 18 and have a valid driver license.  Summer Conservation Worker Info   Muscatine Co. Employment Application
  • Geneva Golf and Country Club Seasonal Job Opportunity: Geneva Golf and Country Club is looking for seasonal bag staff for this spring, summer, and fall! This is a great team atmosphere to work in! Perfect for a high school or college student! Must be at least 16 years old.
    Geneva Seasonal Job Description  Please apply by reaching out to Matt Dail at 815-441-8989, emailing Matt at [email protected] or [email protected], or by calling Geneva Golf and Country Club at 563-263-8942! 

** Scholarships **

  • Seniors: The 2021-2022 MCC Foundation Scholarship Deadline has been Extended! The new deadline is July 30, 2021. Apply at www.eicc.edu/scholarships  Click on "Apply Online for Muscatine Community College".  New applications can be submitted AND draft applications that were not completed by the March 1 deadline, can be finished and submitted.   New applications can be submitted AND draft applications that were not completed by the March 1 deadline, can be finished and submitted.
  • Please visit Scholarships for a list of available scholarships. (newest scholarships are listed at the end of the document)
  • Ag Coop Safety Directors of Iowa Scholarship in Memory of Mark Hambleton
    Award Amount: Up to $1500
    Application Deadline: April 30, 2021 
    Ag Coop Safety Directors of Iowa Scholarship Info & Application
  • Seniors: Iowa College Aid is offering a few programs to help fund your college experience.
    The links to these programs can be found at:

** Silver Cord Opportunities/Volunteer Opportunities **

  • Deliver Meals for Seniors Saturdays & holidays. Meals are picked up at Trinity. It takes about an hour to deliver a route. A route consists of delivering 8- 10 meals. Training is provided by riding along with current volunteers to learn route. A valid driver's license (or a licensed driver to transport you) is required. Please contact Teri Piazza at Senior Resources today!  Phone: (563) 263-7292.
  • The Food & Nutrition Department is providing a free meal pick up service at Central Middle School on Wednesday & Thursday for families in our community. We need help packing meals and carrying boxes and bags to cars.  Please email [email protected] for details.
  • Silver Cord Program:  Students recording hours of volunteer service during their years at MHS will be awarded a Silver Cord to wear at graduation. In order for volunteer hours to count towards a Silver Cord, students must complete the online form to verify. Silver Cord Form
    Service qualifies for Silver Cord recognition if:
    • The student is not paid for the service

** Yearbook Information **

  • 2020-21 Yearbook Order Date has been extended to May 3, 2021! $56 per yearbook. Payment can be made online using InTouch via Parent PowerSchool portal, MHS Attendance Center, or by mail. Complete details:  2020-21 Yearbook Order Details
  • Did you or someone you know attend Muscatine High School during the 2012 through 2015 school years? If so, this is your chance to purchase a yearbook that reflects those school years and memories! Each yearbook is $20 until sold out. All proceeds go back into the Yearbook Club to purchase new equipment and expand the program for students. To purchase, call the Activities Office at Muscatine High School at (563) 263-6141 and ask for Mindy. 

** Keep informed on what is going on at MHS! **

M

This content has been provided by the Muscatine Community School District and is distributed by Discover Muscatine.

D.C.'s adult learners during the pandemic: Results from a Fall 2020 survey - D.C. Policy Center - The D.C. Policy Center

Posted: 04 May 2021 10:42 AM PDT

By Ashley Simpson Baird, Jamie Fragale, and Dwayne Smith


The disproportionate health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 health pandemic have been widely documented. In Washington, D.C., adult learners suddenly found themselves pivoting to virtual learning while simultaneously navigating heightened concerns about their employment, health, and housing.

In May 2020, adult charter schools in D.C. conducted a survey of learners to understand how the pandemic was impacting them. Results of the May 2020 survey indicated high levels of unemployment, challenges with technology, and a preference for in-person over virtual instruction. In December 2020, another round of the survey was administered to understand how learners were faring seven months later. Survey findings demonstrate that, compared to spring of 2020, adult learners enrolled in the fall of 2020 experienced higher levels of competence with technology, more confidence in supporting children's education, and higher levels of employment. These findings can inform the future of adult learning and the education sector as a whole in D.C. as it relates to the expansion of hybrid and virtual learning for adult students and enhanced wraparound services for all students.

The eight adult charter schools in D.C. are publicly-funded programs that educate more than 5,000 students annually and offer free workforce credentials, preparation for a high school diploma through the GED and National External Diploma Program (NEDP), English as Second Language (ESL), and U.S. Citizenship courses. In D.C., adult charter schools are part of the city's public adult education offerings, which also include DCPS Opportunity Academies and community-based organizations. Adult charter schools also work with students to support their full participation in learning by providing social services, counseling, parenting classes, and referrals to partner organizations (e.g., Carlos Rosario International PCS's Student Services Program).

For more than three decades, adult learners in D.C. have gone on to complete postsecondary education, open businesses, be active in their communities, and increase their economic mobility. According to DCPCSB 2019 school quality reports,[1] 94 percent of adult learners who were employed at the start of the school year retained their jobs or entered post-secondary education and 69 percent of learners who were not employed started working or entered post-secondary education.

The fall survey contained 14 parallel questions to the spring survey, as well as eight new questions. In total, the fall survey had 22 questions, with six additional questions specifically for learners who are also parents. The survey was administered from December 1, 2020, through January 8, 2021, in English, Spanish, French, and Amharic. Schools shared the surveys directly with students via email, text message, and telephone calls where school staff assisted students in completing the survey. At the time of the fall survey, adult charter schools were still engaged in virtual synchronous and asynchronous learning. Some workforce programs also had limited onsite instruction for hands-on skills practice.

The fall survey was sent to 3,649 learners, 1,495 of whom completed it (a 41 percent response rate). This response rate was lower than the spring survey, which had 1,832 responses from 3,486 learners (53 percent).[2] Respondents studied at all eight charter schools and lived in all eight wards of the city, with the highest representation in Ward 4 (23 percent) and Ward 1 (14 percent).

Seventy-four percent of fall respondents had been enrolled in their current school when the pandemic started. Three quarters of respondents identified as female, and the majority (53 percent) were under 35 years old. More than 93 percent of respondents were people of color, including 60 percent Latino and 27 percent Black. Respondents primarily spoke seven home languages – Spanish (53 percent), English (32 percent), Amharic (6 percent), French (3 percent), Arabic (1 percent), Vietnamese (1 percent), and Chinese (0.4 percent). Twenty-four percent of adult learners are working on their high school diploma and 16 percent are enrolled in a workforce training course. Another 56 percent of adult learners are taking ESL classes.

Fall survey respondents were demographically similar to spring survey respondents. The chart below contains comparisons between the two groups in race/ethnicity, age, gender, language, and educational attainment.

Analysis of data across the two surveys reveals ways that learning and life situations of adult learners enrolled in the fall improved compared to adult learners enrolled in the spring, and also identifies persistent challenges. Adult learners enrolled in the fall of 2020 reported better digital literacy skills compared to adult learners enrolled in the spring of 2020. This made a large portion of them more comfortable navigating their own education online, as well as helping their children with remote learning, and even shifted some learners' preferences toward hybrid and online learning. In that same time, significant non-academic barriers–including lost income, food insecurity, and mental health concerns–necessitated adult charter schools offering a wide range of supports. Specifically, findings are discussed below as they relate to virtual learning and meeting learners' needs outside of school.

Findings on virtual learning

Access to devices, Wi-Fi, and digital literacy instruction are priorities for adult learners

Immediately following the start of the health emergency, adult charter schools transitioned from an in-person learning environment augmented by digital learning tools to a remote learning environment reliant on digital learning tools, even though 62 percent of learners reported technology challenges (e.g., lack of reliable internet, limited access to a device, or unfamiliarity with technology) that made it difficult to learn from home in the spring. Initially, some learners shared with their schools that they were logging on to classes via mobile phones or sharing devices with their children, which may have limited their ability to fully engage in virtual learning.

To meet learners' immediate needs, adult charter schools fundraised and reallocated resources to provide laptops and internet hotspots. Briya PCS and Academy of Hope Adult PCS together provided over 1,200 students with laptops, as well as internet access to 370 students.

Schools also launched new offerings to bridge the digital divide, including technology boot camps, help desks, and computer skills courses. By fall 2020, 99 percent of survey respondents said that their ability to use technology had improved (82 percent) or stayed the same (17 percent) since spring 2020. Similarly, the proportion of students who reported technology challenges decreased by 31 percentage points compared to the spring.

Maintaining access to devices and centralizing digital skill-building will be critical to learners' success in the future. Even while they are physically in school, learners often need strong digital skills to complete the two nontraditional pathways to a high school diploma in D.C. (the GED exam and the National External Diploma Program), which both transitioned to exclusively-online assessment in 2014. Currently, about 24 percent of survey respondents are working on their GED or NEDP. After high school completion, job seekers benefit from digital fluency as well, as fluency is necessary to succeed in high-demand careers such as IT and customer service.

Learners need to acquire their digital skills alongside their academic comprehension, but the cost of individual devices and reliable internet in students' homes has made acquiring those digital skills difficult. The urgency and demands of the pandemic required adult charter schools to prioritize access to digital tools and center digital skill-building. Maintaining this momentum can benefit learners' digital literacy beyond the pandemic.

Adult schools and learners have adapted to virtual and hybrid learning

In May 2020, about two months after D.C. schools closed, 44 percent of adult learners indicated that they preferred in-person learning, while only 19 percent indicated a preference for online synchronous learning. By December 2020, these preferences had switched: as shown in the chart below, only 26 percent of fall survey respondents preferred learning in-person (an 18 percentage point decline) while 31 percent indicated a preference for online synchronous learning (a 12 percentage point increase).

This is likely attributable to changes schools made to their delivery of online instruction and learners' increased comfort with technology. As noted above, 82 percent of learners say their ability to use technology improved during the pandemic. In addition, many learners have expressed an appreciation for the increased flexibility that virtual learning provides, such as eliminating a commute, being able to learn from anywhere there is Wi-Fi, and not needing to secure childcare to study (54 percent of adult learners are also parents of school age children).

Additionally, learners enrolled in the fall had a harder time coordinating school and employment responsibilities compared to learners enrolled in the spring. A larger proportion of learners who were enrolled in the fall indicated that a lack of time (26 percent in the fall, compared to 19 percent in the spring) and conflicts with work schedules (25 percent in the fall, compared to 15 percent in the spring) made it difficult for them to learn at home than in the spring. This may indicate both a gradual return to work and that students may be making difficult choices between education and employment. Most schools are currently considering how they can maintain elements of virtual and hybrid learning for students once they return to in-person learning to maintain flexibility.

Parents' confidence in supporting their children in school increased

In the fall survey, 54 percent of respondents were parents of school-age children who were also  engaging in virtual learning during the pandemic. In both the spring and fall surveys, about one-fifth of learners indicated that facilitating their children's virtual learning was a concern, presenting new demands on parents' time and attention as well as requiring adequate access to devices and internet so that multiple family members could learn simultaneously.

Adult charter school leaders indicated that they provided new or additional support to parents during the pandemic through instruction on using online learning applications, facilitating communication with their children's schools, and establishing a home learning environment and routines. By December, adult learner parents indicated that their confidence in helping their children with virtual learning had either increased (53 percent) or stayed the same (34 percent) since the start of the pandemic.

Survey findings on needs outside of school

Adult learners experienced dramatic financial losses during the pandemic

Many adult learners work in service sector jobs, such as restaurants and custodial services, which were some of the first to be closed during the pandemic. In D.C., workers without a college degree are over four times more likely than those with a college degree to work in the leisure and hospitality industry: 22 percent of workers without a college degree work in this industry, compared to 5 percent of those with a college degree.[3] Leisure and hospitality was the industry with the largest dip in employment in the spring of 2020.

At the time of the spring survey, 40 percent of adult learners had lost their jobs. By the fall survey administration, 36 percent reported that they were unemployed, 51 percent reported losing their job at some point during the pandemic, and an additional 30 percent had suffered a reduction in hours. Collectively, more than 80 percent of students enrolled in the fall had incurred a loss of income during the pandemic. While 15 percent of students who lost their jobs are now again working, it will take a long time to fully rebound economically. Additional education and employment preparation from adult charter schools may improve learners' employment prospects.

Many adult learners worried about meeting basic needs

In both the spring and fall surveys, an overwhelming majority of learners expressed concerns about their livelihoods. In the fall of 2020, more than 85 percent of learners had concerns around their basic needs including employment, physical health, and housing. The abrupt loss of income was an added stressor for adult learners, many of whom were already facing numerous challenges prior to the pandemic, including paying rent and utilities. For those employed in the service industry, finding new jobs became nearly impossible. According to the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership, the District's leisure and hospitality sector lost one third of its jobs from 2019 to 2020. Overall, the loss of family income, social distancing policies, and the abrupt shuttering of health services for children may have long-term health implications.

Adult charter schools connected learners to resources to sustain their families

In the fall, 73 percent of learners indicated that their schools helped them meet some or all of their non-academic needs during the pandemic, including emergency financial support and essential goods such as diapers, toiletries, and food staples. The pandemic required schools to deliver more social services than normal, as well. One school started a Wellness Wednesday series on YouTube with topics such as emotional hygiene and establishing new family routines. The school also disseminated information about eating on a budget, coping with grief, and establishing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual boundaries.

Adult learners have always juggled their schoolwork with other important demands on their time, but the pandemic presented additional complexities. As schools begin to more fully reopen, survey findings reveal that adult learners need their schools to continue to meet them where they are–whether that is physically in the classroom, via remote platforms, or through a hybrid program model.

For schools to do this, there must be policies in place that allow schools to be nimble in order to quickly respond to learners' needs. For example, during the pandemic, attendance policies supported instructional flexibility for students by giving credit for in-person, hybrid, and virtual synchronous and asynchronous participation. Continuing such policies would give adult learners the opportunity to engage in an educational model that best compliments their complex lives as parents, caretakers, and breadwinners.

Adult learners have indicated that current flexible attendance policies (unlike in-seat requirements for K-12 students) made continuing their education possible. Adult schools will also continue to provide appropriate wraparound supports for learners, just as they did before the pandemic. Finally, even when COVID restrictions lift and remote platforms are not required to be the primary channel for engagement, digital literacy skills should continue to be a central component of academic instruction.

Feature photo courtesy of Briya PCS.


About the Authors

Ashley Simpson Baird, Ph.D. is the founder and principal of Merit Research, Policy, and Evaluation which provides customized, equity-focused solutions for schools and educational non-profits. Formerly, she was a teacher at Briya Public Charter School and Board Chair at The Next Step/el Próximo Paso Public Charter School. Dr. Simpson Baird can be reached at ashley@meritrpe.com.

Jamie Fragale is the Director of Advocacy and Communications at Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School.

Dwayne Smith is the Student Information Systems Specialist at Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter Schools.

Notes

[1]Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, 2019 is the most recent year for which sector-level data are publicly available.

[2] Survey results reflect self-reported data from adult learners at two distinct time points. The pool of adult learners at each administration likely included some overlap but may also include unique learners as well.

[3] U.S. Census Bureau. 2021. Public Use Microdata Sample: American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 2015-2019. Available at: data.census.gov 

D.C. Policy Center Fellows are independent writers, and we gladly encourage the expression of a variety of perspectives. The views of our Fellows, published here or elsewhere, do not reflect the views of the D.C. Policy Center.

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