Students to not be penalized by COEPD changes

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With schools closing throughout the country because of COVID-19, some education students at Marshall University are wondering how they should finish their clinicals and stay on track. The dean of the College of Education and Professional Development has said they should not worry. 

“So our students will not be doing clinicals in public schools after (March 13) unless things change before the end of the semester,” said Teresa Eagle, dean of COEPD. “If there are changes that need to be made and requirements, we will be making those changes appropriately.”

Eagle said the college is looking at the different situations for different clinical requirements to determine how to proceed. 

“We will be looking at what they completed in classes,” she said. “If there is a class that requires a clinical requirement, we are looking at what they can do when we come back, if they come back, or can we do something different.” 

Eagle said the COEPD sent out an email explaining some of the upcoming changes, but some students are still concerned, including senior Casee Jones, a secondary education major with an emphasis in social studies. 

“All in all, I’m honestly very stressed in this situation as to what my next step is after this since no one really knows when the schools will open up or if I’ll be able to finish my clinical,” Jones said. “But I know people are doing what they think is best, so I just hope it will all work out in the end.”

Jones said she is being personally affected by the school shut down because she is currently taking a 15-hour clinical that requires her to have hands-on experience with a student who has an individualized education program or a student with special needs. Jones said she was worried about having to make up the hours because she is unsure when she would be able to. 

“Speaking for myself, I don’t know when I would make up these clinical hours if they make us make them up at some point since I am going to be taking at least two other clinicals next semester along with school and work,” she said. 

Eagle said the college is encouraging different methods to replace clinicals, and students should not worry about not receiving credit. 

“We are encouraging faculty to give students alternative experiences, videos, online material or something else,” Eagle said. “They (students) will not be penalized for things that are beyond their control, and everything is beyond our control right now.”

Kelcie Clay, elementary education student, said the shutdown is affecting a clinical for her as well. Clay is supposed to be assisting students in reading and has been working with a first grade class for the last few weeks. Clay said she was supposed to move to an upper elementary course, but the clinical has been suspended due to the closure. 

Even with the changes in the program, Clay said she thinks her classmates would rather protect their students than put them at risk, even if it affects their projects.

“COVID-19 is making it difficult to study education because we have so many projects and hands-on learning experiences,” she said. “However, I know any education major would do anything to protect their clinical students. They are what is important in this situation.”

Clay also said she trusts the COEPD officials to make the right choices when it comes to suspending and waiving clinicals.

“Our education program is one of the best,” she said. “It prepares students so we are fully confident going into our first year of teaching. I think they (the administrators) know what they are doing.” 

Eagle also said she wants people to remember that everything is still changing. 

“What happens today and is decided today may be different tomorrow,” she said. “Just keep in mind that things are changing quickly.”

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected]