'It was a change:' In-person classes continue for frontline professions at Gateway Technical College

KENOSHA -- There are still many careers considered essential during the coronavirus pandemic, and the need to fill those jobs will continue to be great.

While most colleges have been forced to go virtual, some coursework is still happening in person at Gateway Technical College.

"We did a lot of adjustments to try to meet the students wherever they are," said Kyle Worzala, a welding instructor at Gateway.

Worzala's class hit the video streaming service Twitch not long after the "Safer at Home" order shuttered schools.

Gateway officials said classes were canceled for three days until most coursework, lectures and other essentials were migrated to online, virtual coursework where available.

"It was a change, at first, adjusting to it," Worzala said. "But when you use the video conferencing software, you're still in class. It's the same time, same amount of time you meet. Your instructors are there. All the students are there."

But some things can't be replaced with online-only learning.

"The most difficult thing for me is I am also a very hands-on learner," nursing student Alyssa Bock said. "Us nursing students, we didn't expect to walk into a pandemic. However, we are trained to stay calm, collected and to do exactly what we were trained to do."

So, in-person training at Gateway is limited to essential careers like law enforcement, fire and nursing -- obviously with precautions in place.

"Being able to make mistakes, safely, and having the debriefing with your nursing faculty, it really helps you learn," said Bock.

Despite the pandemic forcing institutions like Gateway to pivot, Bock, a fourth-generation nurse, is set to start her career come Monday, May 11.

The goal at Gateway, despite all the changes, is still to provide high-quality education and still have students graduate on time.