Today, March 23, 2020, we received notification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) that all schools in the Commonwealth are to extend their school closures until April 7, 2020 for faculty and staff and April 9, 2020 for students. As such, the Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center (GACTC) will continue to be closed until that date. This pertains to all students of the GACTC, secondary and post-secondary.
We can’t begin to explain how difficult these uncertain times have been for the entire GACTC family. Our entire team wants nothing more than to return to normal and see our hallways once again filled with our amazing students. Our students are passionate about their chosen discipline and we share in their frustration and disappointment as these school closures continue to separate them from their program, friends, and instructors. Know that we stand ready to return to educating the next generation of America’s workforce as soon as permitted.
Our team was also informed that the PDE has canceled all standardized testing for students enrolled in career and technical education programs for this year. These include exams from the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) and National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS). While some students may rejoice in the idea of a canceled test, we know that this will be disappointing news to our students. They have worked hard for three or four years to master their trade and they were excited to demonstrate their knowledge on these exams. We will continue to explore all available options to provide evidence of our student’s mastery of their skills.
Over the past few weeks I have been introduced to the terms “essential employee” and “life-sustaining business”. As I think about these terms, I can't help but think of the graduates from our programs that are keeping our nation up and running during these difficult times. From mechanics to chefs, computer techs to healthcare professionals, these are the folks that help make these uncomfortable circumstances bearable. Career and technical school graduates are the definition of essential and life-sustaining.
We will continue to monitor the situation, please look for additional information posted on our website at www.gactc.edu and on social media. Please call 814.941.TECH (8324) with any questions or concerns regarding this matter.