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Pandemic response shows people at their best

April 17, 2020

In the midst of this serious, unique, and uncertain time, all of us are witnessing positive actions, both great and small.

We’re seeing neighbors checking on neighbors.  Families create elaborate works of art and encouraging messages in chalk on their sidewalks to lift spirits.  Ad hoc organizations have sprung up to feed health care workers who are putting in long shifts to care for the ill. Restaurants and other businesses affected by stay-at-home orders are donating meals and supplies to help others. Our partnering school districts are feeding students, doing drive-by visits, providing mental health resources, and staying connected to students and families.

“We’re all in this together,” we say, and it’s true.

I’m impressed with, and grateful for, our Great Oaks associates during this time as well.

First, instructors had to learn and use a completely new method of teaching in just days.  They became proficient in using live streaming software to connect with students, rewrote lesson plans to adapt to remote learning, and collaborated with their colleagues to support students from a distance.  Imagine trying to teach such hands-on and experiential topics as aviation maintenance, dental assisting, heavy equipment operations, or other career fields via a computer screen; then imagine finding out that you had four days to begin doing so.  Great Oaks instructors, and teachers across the country, had this experience.

Second, Great Oaks staff didn’t stop there.  Many are using their knowledge, skills, and spare time to support the effort to keep our communities safe and healthy.  Every day I hear stories about my colleagues:  Technology teachers who are making personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospital workers using 3D printers, health care teachers who volunteer to work with those who are sick, sewing face masks, and more.

When the call came out for supplies for local health care centers, our staff collected PPE and other needed items from our health care program labs and rushed several loads to hospitals in Cincinnati and Wilmington.  Our Public Safety Services staff has worked to safely keep our National Testing Center open—one of the few still open in Ohio—to ensure that the hiring pipeline stays open for police officers and firefighters.

For all of this, 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic will be lasting memories.  Our lives have changed.  As we mourn those lost and care for those who are still ill, we’re grateful for all who have shown the best in people.