When Walla Walla closed schools and businesses to slow the spread of coronavirus, all ages of students were faced with new ways to learn. That included YWCA LiNC students.
LiNC stands for “Living In New Circumstances” and is designed to help domestic violence survivors gain confidence and set goals for independent living.
These students face a special challenge – many lack computer equipment, internet access, and in some cases, the ability to confidently operate a computer.
Curriculum creator Deana York’s LiNC 2.0 class was far enough along that they were able to continue makeshift group meetings and support by phone calls, texts or email, depending on what they had access to.
Regular LiNC classes hadn’t yet started, so Director Beki Buell didn’t even have a full roster signed up, let alone a group with enough trust and rapport established to have phone conversations.
In May Beki – with some help from Program Assistant Jessica Swanson, a Pacific Lutheran University junior taking a year off from her studies – brought back the program with virus precautions in place.
The first step was preparing individual kits for each student so they wouldn’t be passing around glue sticks and markers (and virus particles) while writing about their goals, creating life maps, and coloring to increase calm and mindfulness.
Crowding was also a concern, so only half the class met at a time, and each topic was taught twice. “The most people in the room at any one time is six,” Beki said. “And we all wear masks in the classroom seated 6 to 8 feet apart.” In addition, the room has a medical-grade air filter, and hand and surface sanitizers are used regularly.
The end-of-class celebration brought both halves of the class together. At an outdoor picnic with carefully distributed individual refreshments, the participants shared their goals and the collages each had made to remind them of their hopes for the future.
A fall class met with similar precautions, except that with the colder weather, the two groups had to forego a combined picnic.
Moving online, moving ahead
While in-person classes have worked well and still managed to keep everyone safe, COVID cases are surging in our county. Beki is rolling out an online LiNC group that begins Jan.19. Tablets and WiFi hotspots can be supplied if needed, as well as class supplies.
“For security, we will be using an online technology similar to Zoom called Highfive. Students will also be learning this new way of receiving class instruction,”
she said. “In a world touched by COVID, the ability to meet and learn online is a critical life skill.”