Lakeland College has been providing a helping hand to Portage College students in Early Child Care classes.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on most in-person classes, Lakeland allowed Portage diploma students to use their virtual daycare program, allowing them to digitally access one of four practicums required in ELCC learning. This program sees students develop, oversee and execute an entire daycare on campus as if they were actually directing the facility.

Lakeland Dean of Human Services Janice Aughey says they created the version for online students back in 2014, which means they had an established program to share.

“With the pandemic, it certainly alveated some of the pressure for us and for our students who weren’t able to complete practicum because agencies just like, well, most of us, were on stay at home orders and they couldn’t experience it for that semester. ”

This online program largely helps students taking online courses while already working in the field, giving them overseeing experience. In total, 37 students from Portage College utilized online daycare work, completing needed hours for their learning.

Aughey adds that she thinks schools will follow suit to build virtual daycare practicums of their own.

“The feedback that we get from students is phenomenal. The feedback that we also get from our practicum placement sites, who hire our students who have gone through the virtual practicum, they continually tell us that our students are certainly well equipped to meet the needs of the daycare, and probably take on some further leadership roles.”

Aughey adds that a partnership with Portage College next semester is “very likely” and they will help other schools develop the program as well.