Family and child life program: persevering through the pandemic

Milenne Quinonez , Staff Reporter

Family and Child Life Department Chair Duane Dowd said the family and child life program has been doing their best to ensure the safety of the students. With that priority in mind, it was decided to keep all upcoming spring classes for the program online. 

The family and child life faculty have implemented ways to keep students connected. 

“While everybody has missed the opportunity for in-person learning, the family and child life program especially has utilized some unique methods to still have students be able to learn and interact in hands-on ways, but in an online format,” Dowd said. 

These include the use of chat rooms, Zoom meetings, Zoom office hours and students setting up online meetings to study with one another.  

Dowd said the program focuses on real world experiences, which students will do in practicums over a series of years. This is where they help within the community in the areas that they will be employed in once graduated. 

“These types of opportunities have been harder and more difficult to find,” Dowd said. 

Because of the pandemic, many students had to substitute out some of their practicum hours and instead take on additional coursework.

Dowd said the program is working hard to advise students and ensure that they are being guided and making accommodations for things when they are not possible. According to Dowd, the department hasn’t had a single student that has had to delay graduation because of the pandemic.

As fall quarter 2021 approaches, Dowd said the department is watching closely as they put together their fall schedule. They hope to have classes back to in-person modalities, but also acknowledge that things are always subject to change.

According to Dowd, many of his department’s freshman students have mentioned how much they miss in-person classes and normal activities. Because of this, he knows some who have decided to put school off for a year until things return to normal.

“A lot of going away to a four-year university is more than just the education,” Dowd said. “It’s not just what happens in a classroom, it’s what happens in the hallways outside of the classroom.”

Michelle Hill ELC

A practicum opportunity that is still available for students in the family and child life program is the Early Childhood Learning Center (ELC). Students are able to work at these facilities in order to complete practicum hours. There are two of these centers, one located in Michaelsen Hall and the other in Brooklane Village. The centers reopened on Sept. 4, 2020, and have been open since. 

Michelle Hill, the director of the ELC program, said upon reopening there were changes made to accommodate for the ongoing pandemic. Parents are now only allowed to be outside of the building with their children, where a staff member will meet them to take the child. They use an app called Bright Wheel to do health check-ins. Staff are also required to do health check-ins on the MyCWU site. It is mandatory for everyone to wear a mask, and parents are also required to check theirs aand their children’s temperatures before taking them to the centers.

“We have some families that are choosing to wait a bit longer until the vaccine comes out, and then they’ll be comfortable coming back. And then we have ones that came back right away,” Hill said.

Hill said because classes are now all online, there have been some changes in full time care and part time care for children, though the centers were able to hire back a majority of staff that could return.