Reopening in the time of COVID-19
The Alaska Carpenters Training Trust reopened with new safety policies in September after abruptly shutting down last March due to COVID-19 in the middle of a six-week training block. Reopening the Anchorage and Fairbanks locations involved coordinating with state and city regulations, developing a new daily cleaning schedule, creating a mask mandate, staggering breaks, and more.
With limited technology available, the Alaska Carpenters Training Trust reopening meant planning for in-person, hands-on training rather than hybrid or virtual learning. The requirement of smaller class sizes because of city group size limits also meant the Anchorage training center had to navigate using different instructors, classrooms, and indoor and outdoor space for the 20+ apprentices in each six-week training block.
“It is possible to have in-person training. It falls to the staff at the training centers. We have an advantage as we have smaller groups,” said Josh Bolton, Interim Training Director.
The staff at Alaska Carpenters Training Trust were up to the challenge of safely reopening and were motivated to get apprentices back on track to complete their apprenticeships. They have creatively used the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners (UBC) COVID-19 preparedness course as both a resource for setting safety standards for the Anchorage and Fairbanks locations as well as first-day instruction for each group of apprentices attending in-person courses.
“Our apprentices spend all four years together and get to know each other. They’re taking their own and their classmates’ health very seriously,” said Bolton.
Part of reopening also meant outlining expectations around staying home if staff or apprentices don’t feel well and when to get a COVID test if experiencing symptoms. This level of preparedness has resulted in no outbreaks.
“Our numbers in Alaska are continuously going up, but our staff at [Alaska Carpenters Training Trust] is committed to requiring masks at all times, continuing the UBC COVID preparedness training, and cleaning all common areas frequently to keep everyone healthy and safe,” says Bolton. “Everybody is participating with our new policies and we’re happy to keep our apprentices on track to complete their coursework.”