Yakima Valley College workforce programs receive nearly $200,000 in CARES Act funding

YAKIMA, WA - Workforce-related programs at Yakima Valley College have received nearly $200,000 in federal CARES Act funding to support their recovery from disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding, which come from the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds provided by the CARES Act, will support YVC’s EducationDental Hygiene and Veterinary Technology programs.

In March 2020, YVC suspended its Early Childhood Education (ECE) Spanish cohort due to the pandemic and moved from face-to-face instruction to online coursework. Skye Field, interim dean for workforce education and applied baccalaureate programs, said the grant funding has enabled YVC to revamp and translate the curriculum for the cohort to provide for an optimal learning experience in the current environment.

“Our Early Childhood Education program serves an essential need in preparing educators for our community, so we’re thankful to have this funding to support restarting the Spanish cohort, an important program for monolingual Spanish-speaking students who are preparing for their careers in early childhood education,” Field said.

During the winter 2021 quarter, 13 students are resuming their studies in the ECE-Spanish Cohort with support from GEER funding.

YVC’s Dental Hygiene and Veterinary Technology programs restarted last summer and fall, but course programming has been backlogged due to the temporary closure and increased safety protocols.

Field said resources from the grant for Dental Hygiene and Veterinary Technology will go toward curriculum development, personal protective equipment and other equipment needs to continue lab and clinic safety, community outreach, and staff and faculty support for extended course offerings.

“YVC faculty and staff have looked for innovative ways to teach our students since the onset of the pandemic and the GEER grant will support those efforts,” Field said. “Workforce education programs will play a big role in getting our state and local economy back on track and we’re grateful to have this support for YVC’s offerings.”

The $199,998 grant awarded to YVC is part of nearly $5 million in GEER funds given to community and technical colleges across the state to help restore workforce-related programs affected by the pandemic. Washington state’s community and technical college system enrolled approximately 356,000 students during the 2019-2020 academic year with 48% enrolled in workforce programs that were significantly disrupted in spring 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic and measures to stop its spread. Workforce programs like YVC’s ECE, Dental Hygiene and Veterinary Technology programs require a hands-on component, so measures like physical distancing and lab and classroom capacity impacted the number of students who could participate at any one time. The GEER grants are intended to help colleges as they find new and different ways to provide instruction so students can complete their programs and enter the job market ready for what employers need.