Tips To Resume Externships Safely & Efficiently
Students who choose to attend career schools are motivated by more than simply earning a certificate. They want to become proficient in a niche set of skills that will allow them to enter a career path they feel passionate about.
While taking in theoretical knowledge about a career is important, students’ development increases dramatically when they practice the skills learned in the classroom in a real-world setting. That’s why career colleges mandate that students complete practical training before they can graduate, many in the form of off-site externships.
This spring the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to temporarily halt their on-ground programs, including externships, until the pandemic subsided. But unfortunately, the pandemic has shown no signs of slowing, and many schools have made changes to offer distance learning for the rest of 2020.
While K-12 schools and higher education institutions have used technology to recreate their on-ground courses in a digital format, the externship component of career college programs is nearly impossible to recreate digitally.
Luckily, studies have provided enough information about COVID-19 to enable career colleges to put measures in place to resume externships without further endangering their students or externship site staff. Not only do those measures increase safety, they can help streamline the externship data collection process which previously took weeks to complete. Below are some steps schools can take to resume externships safely and efficiently.
Resume Externships Safely
Existing Safety Protocols At The Site
Students completing externships at off-site locations have to follow the safety protocols that location has in place. Because those locations are open, and many of them stayed open during the pandemic, the protocols they have in place are proven to keep individuals at the site safe. As long as students follow those protocols, they can stay safe.
Increased Safety Through Touch Free Attendance
Students completing externships typically record their attendance using a sign in sheet or biometric scanner. These methods utilize shared surfaces and facilitate the spread of germs. According to WebMD, COVID-19 can stay alive on glass surfaces for up to five days. If one person leaves their germs on a surface, it’s likely that any student or externship staff that handles the sign-in sheet or bio scanner will have the virus on their hands. These methods put both students and preceptors at risk.
But by adopting a mobile attendance solution, your students can check themselves in without having to touch shared surfaces. CourseKey’s mobile attendance solution places a geofence around an externship site. When a student enters the site, they can check in on their mobile device, eliminating contact with shared surfaces. Once the student is checked in, they can continue following the safety protocols the site has in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Completing Health Checks Before Visiting Sites
Externship sites need to be sure students coming to complete externship hours are not potentially carrying COVID-19. Through CourseKey’s mobile attendance solution, students can complete a daily health check survey where they can report their symptoms each time they go to an externship site.
Students who trigger a red flag as a potential risk for carrying COVID-19 are not allowed on site. Students who aren’t at risk can show the front desk receptionist and preceptors that they’re safe to come on site.
By having students report their symptoms, schools and externship sites can be sure that only students who are safe to come on site do so. Additionally, schools and externship sites will collect reports that document students’ reported symptoms, which they can easily export and share as appropriate.
Resume Externships Efficiently
Streamlining Externship Attendance Collections
In addition to increasing safety measures to protect students and externship staff, schools can streamline their externship attendance data collection through mobile attendance solutions.
School staff typically undergo extensive back and forth communication with site preceptors to verify the accuracy of reported student hours. Continuous emailing and calling to verify student hours can be irritating and time consuming for both parties. This back and forth can be draining and is potentially harmful to schools’ relationships with externship sites.
But by upgrading to a mobile attendance solution, attendance data is visible to admins right away through enterprise dashboards. Admins can know in real-time when a student is completing externship hours, saving them days, and in some cases weeks, of waiting to collect records of externship hour records from students.
Schools using traditional worksheets don’t have the luxury of electronic back-ups. That means if a student misplaces or damages their sheet before they turn it in to their school, the hours recorded on that sheet are lost or invalid. But by digitally collecting attendance data and having records immediately stored in the cloud, schools eliminate the risk of students losing or damaging their timesheets.
Easily Managing Multiple Site
For schools with students completing hours at multiple locations, school staff can access an overview of all partner sites and see where a student is currently working and how long they’ve been there. With GPS attendance, however, they can see which students have checked in to which sites in real-time.
Through implementing safety measures like hands free attendance through mobile attendance solutions and daily health checks, schools can help keep students safe while drastically increasing efficiency in managing externship attendance hours.
With increased safety and efficiency measures in place, schools can allow students to resume their practical hours at externship sites, which are extremely critical to student development and are often stepping stones for students to be placed after graduation.
To learn how the CourseKey platform can help your school resume externships safely and efficiently, request a demo by filling out the form below.