Moving Forward with Training Amidst a Pandemic
2020 started out strong for the T2 Training Programs. We had an aggressive plan to provide a year full of learning opportunities for Connecticut’s transportation workforce and a project in the works to streamline our registration process and increase student access to training data. When COVID-19 entered the picture, our team came together to adjust our work structure and assess how we might be able to move forward given strict State and University guidelines. We knew we needed to continue to work toward our goals and support the public works community in the face of these challenges.
In the early days of the pandemic, agencies reached out to us asking, “Is the T2 Center still offering training for our staff members?” Our answer was “Yes!”, as long as we could do it safely. Our first step was to research the precautions needed to safely hold workshops. Safety measures were developed, such as smaller class sizes, social distancing requirements, mask-wearing, surface disinfecting, along with other procedures. Instructors, host towns and participants were required to adhere to all safety protocols. Instructors and facilitators were provided with kits that included masks, gloves, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and equipment for marking social distancing. There were logistical challenges that we addressed: parking lot meetups with instructors and hosts to exchange class materials and safety kits with minimal contact; garage bays turned into classrooms to improve social distancing; agencies printing handouts for their attendees so we could minimize contact with materials. All the challenges were met, and we were off and running!
To accommodate both our restrictions and those of the towns across the state, we adjusted curriculum and class structure to provide as much flexibility as we could. Classes were held virtually and in-person for both individual towns and small mixed groups. Additionally, the T2 Center had a first in 2020: a Custom Flagger workshop held on a virtual platform. This session answered the need of towns that needed Flagger training for just a couple of their staff members—too few to hold their own class. Attendees received live instruction and completed their exams and live demonstration virtually.
In all, 33 Custom classes were offered in 2020 covering 11 different topics, including Chainsaw Safety & Storm Cleanup, ATTSA Flagger, Sustainable Winter Operations & Calibration demonstration, On the Job Safety & OSHA Regulations, and Work Zone Safety, among others. Over 500 municipal, state and federal employees attended Custom training programs in 2020. We were also able to offer 42 general sessions in either a virtual or in-person format across all certificate programs. In total, we held 75 programs for almost 1500 participants and provided opportunities for students to advance in their respective programs.
As we reflect on 2020, the collaboration between the T2 Center, host towns, instructors and participants is something that we can all be proud of. Everyone came together to move forward safely and successfully in the face of this great challenge. As we move into 2021 and the challenges continue, we will flex and pivot as needed to support Connecticut’s public works community. We will continue to hold sessions in a safe and accessible format. The Custom Program will continue to answer the needs of the public works community by providing training for your crew, at your location. We will also be scheduling a second virtual Flagger class in the coming months. Should you have any training needs, reach out to Lisa Knight at email@example.com for more information on custom training and visit our website at www.cti.uconn.edu/cti/T2Center_Home.asp for updates on our 2021 workshop schedule.