BLOOMINGDALE — As has been the case for just about everything during the ongoing pandemic, the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School’s adult education programs have had to adapt.
Rich Wilinski, the program coordinator, is hoping safety measures and new classes are going to bring people back into the programs this upcoming term.
While Wilinski understands the concerns about COVID-19, he wants anyone on the fence to know that safety precautions are in place throughout the JVS, including the adult programs, and he feels the staff has done an admirable job of making it a safe environment.
“We certainly understand people are concerned about COVID, we understand people might feel uncomfortable,” he said. “The joint vocational school has done a great job of trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“They sanitize the building every day, they spray the building every day, all of the classrooms, all of the desks, all of the offices. Every classroom is supplied with hand sanitizers, we encourage social distancing, we ask that everyone wear a mask.
“The JVS has taken every precaution to protect everyone in the building. They take all the steps necessary, follow all the protocols. Talking to Superintendent Todd Phillipson, they’ve only had one case of COVID among the student body and that was early last year. I think those who want to take courses might feel a little better knowing that.”
Wilinski has been at the helm for the past three years, but the programs themselves date back to the 1970s. Enrollment, though, is down since the pandemic started.
“Usually our turnout is very, very good, but, since the COVID struck, it has been down,” Wilinski said. “Even the last term that we had which ran from September-November, it was down a little bit. We’re really encouraging people that, if they feel a little shut in and not able to do anything, this would be a good evening out to enjoy with people who have the same interests that they do.”
Classes take place in the evenings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with each class meeting one time per week. Some classes are one meeting, while some meet up to eight times. Classes begin on Jan. 19. Classes have staggered starts with one beginning in March.
“We offer a variety of program from the category of computers, trade and industrial course and we have a bunch of special interest courses.” he said. “For some courses, there is a tuition fee, for some there is not. Some courses do require a fee for supplies. For example, a course in decorative painting requires a fee for tuition and supplies, while a handmade greeting card course is a free course but requires a cost for supplies of $40.
“We offer a course in basic electricity if you want to learn how to fix a lamp or rewire an outlet or something like that. We have a small engine repair class, so instead of taking your lawn mower to a repair shop you can fix it yourself or even in the classroom,” Wilinski explained.
According to Wilinski, the program offers something for everyone and is always updating its offerings – including the addition of a cooking class for the first time, which starts on Jan. 20.
“We’re offering some different courses, we’ve added some courses, we’re just trying to drum up some interest from the community,” he said. “It’s evolving all the time with new courses. We try to evaluate the program every term and try to incorporate new courses. We’re trying to go with what people might find interesting.”
Some classes are simply learning a new skill or hobby, while some offer valuable use outside the classroom.
“We offer a course in guitar that is for those who are beginners and those who can play a little bit,” Wilinski said. “We have course in quilting that is one of our more popular courses. People will come not just for the sake of quilting, but, interaction with others.
“We have a course in sign language that we think is a good course for, not only people that want to learn how to sign, but first responders that may run into a situation where they are attending to someone who can’t speak but can only sign.
“We feel we’re offering a wide variety of courses with a lot of different applications that would interest a lot of people.”
Those wishing to sign up or get more information can still do so by calling the JVS at (740) 264-5545 between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. today through Thursday and after for courses that start later.
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