For many instructors, students, and staff the 2020–2021 school year will feel like their very first year in the classroom. Filled with nerves and anticipation that not everything will go as planned. The fall is shaping up to be just like that. There is a degree of uncertainty for reasons well beyond control and it is expected that the learning environment will look different.

The Southeast Michigan Construction Academy (SEMCA) welcomed students back to school in September. Each SEMCA campus will be structured differently to accommodate building restrictions and classroom sizes.

The health and safety of SEMCA students, staff, and community is most important as we prepare for the new school year. Health screening, mask wearing, and social distancing will be crucial for success.

SEMCA’s most dramatic change for the new school year will be the classroom structure at the Madison Heights campus. This year, the Madison Heights campus will be operating a hybrid program.

This hybrid system allows SEMCA to keep class sizes small and properly social distanced. Expectations are that half of the students would be learning remotely on a live Zoom feed while the other half are present in the classroom. Shop time and module exams will be in-person.

To properly execute a hybrid program, SEMCA made a sizable investment in technology upgrades. The technology includes touchscreen monitors for real time annotations during a Zoom session, intuitive cameras that follow the instructor as they move, speakers that will ensure sound is accessible to all, and more.

These upgrades will mimic the classroom session for those students watching the live stream from home. The intention is to limit self-directed learning and leverage the virtual classroom to provide quality education.

SEMCA will offer ongoing in-person instructor as long as it is feasible. SEMCA has created a plan that will allow the school to pivot quickly as public health orders and information changes. The 2020–2021 will be different but SEMCA is confident the preparations prioritizes the learning and safety of students which is necessary for a successful year.