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Higher Ed hands-on learning programs have adjusted as all classes move online during cornavirus pandemic

Nursing and Culinary Arts students across Maine need in-person classes to learn essential skills. As campuses are closed they have to learn from home

BANGOR, Maine — On most Wednesdays, the hallways of Eastern Maine Community College have a pleasant aroma.

That's when Jay Demers and his International Cuisine course cooked and served dishes at the on-campus restaurant. But for the foreseeable future, the kitchen, and the campus is closed due to the coronavirus, COVID-19. 

All college students in Maine are now home, learning remotely from home. Most majors and degree programs are used to online education but culinary programs, not so much.

Credit: NCM

“I kind of approach it just like we were going to be there for the week. Everybody’s still talking about what they would do or how they would do it, we just don’t get the chance to practice it," Demers said.

His students still are required to cook but do so from home. Demers gives them the instructions for each meal, makes his recommendations and then lets the students go to work.

His biggest concern isn't the at-home cooking, it's for the students who struggle with the coursework that goes along with it.

“They’ve had so many opportunities to practice these different crafts that I’m not concerned about how prepared they are for entering the industry," Demers added.

Credit: NCM

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Many of the students in the program are non-traditional college students and have never had a college experience.

“[They] have never been through the college experience were looking forward to graduation and all the things that brings, so that’s the hard part.”

Nursing students at Beal College in Bangor also have to adjust to online learning. Doctor Colleen Koob is the Dean of Nursing and Biological Science. She said this situation isn't ideal, but her students are prepared.

“If there is anything, we teach our nurses it’s to critically think. And I think all our 14 nursing programs in this state are doing that very well," Koob said.

Clinical and lab training hours are a critical part of the nursing degree program. Clinicals at local hospitals were canceled and all labs were moved to virtual teaching.

Credit: NCM

Dr. Koob is hopefull to see her students soon.

“Hopefully things start to get better by the end of April and we’ll have our students back in their normal clinical settings and our nursing lab in the first week of May," she added.

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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