The student-inmates at CoreCivic's Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville, Kentucky, are continuing to stay on track to earn a GED despite the learning environment challenges COVID-19 has imposed on academia nationwide. Much like schools have had to adapt to this new normal, correctional facilities are also taking innovative approaches to learning during a pandemic for the sake of helping students meet their educational goals for reentry.
During the pandemic, Lee's education staff has created learning packets every 10 days, including GED curriculum material, as well as material that engages the mind while abstaining from the classroom, such as Sudoku and crossword puzzles. Also included in the packets are reading exercises, based on each student-inmate's individual learning plan. This type of material allows student-inmates to work independently, without an instructor present, so that social distance guidelines can be adequately met.
"Nothing will quite replace the classroom instruction environment, but we are doing the best we can to support students' educational progress under these unprecedented circumstances created by the pandemic," said Lee Adjustment Center's Instructor Supervisor Benny Patrick.
While student-inmates may be doing schoolwork independently right now, education staff still make periodic visits around the facility to answer any questions students may have, and check up on their progress.
In fact, Lee's flexible learning plan has enabled student-inmate, Johnny C., to complete his GED coursework amid COVID-19. Johnny's official graduation date was March 30, but like the rest of the country's graduates, his ceremony – along with other joint reentry-program graduation ceremonies at Lee – has been postponed until further notice to prevent virus transmission in large gatherings.
"I am so excited that after six years of working towards this goal, I have officially earned a GED," said Johnny. "Lee's education staff has fully supported me along my education journey, always encouraging me to do my best. With a GED now under my belt, I plan to further my education by pursuing a certificate in carpentry so I am better prepared for that field of work when I return home."
Six student-inmates at Lee, including Johnny, have earned their GED since January 1, 2020. As Lee has done, CoreCivic facilities across the nation are also finding innovative ways to help student-inmates continue their education progress during the pandemic.