Co-op programs continue through pandemic at Hamilton schools
By Kate McCullough – The Hamilton Spectator
For 17-year-old Ethan Turpin, a high school student and aspiring welder, co-op has been a pandemic saving grace.
“He came home with a sense of confidence, of achievement, and things that he wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else because he’s not allowed to go anywhere,” said Linda Stenhouse, his grandmother.
Ethan is enrolled in a co-operative education program at Waterdown District High School, completing his placement at Flamboro Technical Services, a fabrication and millwrighting company. Stenhouse said he has been invited back for another term.
“He went from failing grades and ended up being an honour student,” she said. “We likened it to the fact that he was in the co-op program.”
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) says about half of its students are able to continue with co-op placements — both in person and virtual — amid a provincewide stay-at-home order announced by the Ontario government on Jan. 12.
The board has been offering in-person co-op placements since Oct. 21, “after a pause to ensure that student safety was considered, and appropriate protocols were in place,” HWDSB spokesperson Shawn McKillop said in an email to The Spectator.
In cases where an in-person placement is not possible, staff will determine whether or not the student can continue virtually or present “alternate learning opportunities” in order to meet curriculum expectations.
“There are some community placements that have been unable to place a student given the recent provincial state of emergency stay-at-home order,” he said.