Prior to the pandemic, students would perform basic procedures on each other. But now, they have adjusted to experience hands-on practices with a dental mannequin head. (Photo by Katie Le)

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How COVID-19 affected Regional Occupation Program internships

The Health Sciences and Medical Technology department of ROP courses has undergone changes due to the rise in COVID-19 cases resulting in student capacity limits, masking requirements and the decline of internship opportunities.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/ansharah-asif/" target="_self">Ansharah Asif</a>

Ansharah Asif

January 31, 2022

These internships, depending on the career type, include opportunities for students to shadow individuals within job fields of interest. The Coastline ROP Program has prioritized student and staff safety with the reduction of internship opportunities.

With mask requirements in place, many teachers also require their students to wash or sanitize their hands when entering and leaving their classrooms. Similarly to Fountain Valley High School guidelines, students are required to leave the class to eat to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Additionally, ROP has set a student capacity to ensure social distancing when inside the classroom. 

“I remember the first day where we had like 15 students but then the next day more than 5 students had dropped out,” senior Masa Abbas said. 

The hardest hit career was Health Sciences and Medical Technology. Many dental and nurse assisting classes, such as Dental Back Office and Certifying Nurse Assistant, set limitations to practicing their skill set. 

“Students used to be able to practice skills such as suctioning on each other and the use of certain instruments on each other, but because COVID is getting really bad, we weren’t able to do that this year, as it could be a safety hazard when it comes to a sterile practicing environment,” Dental Back Office and Front Office teacher Rosa Burns said.

Students are also required to take breaks outside to prevent them from taking their masks off in close proximity during class.

The hardest part for many students was the missed opportunity of interning at a hospital, which is what students in the CNA class in the past had experienced.

“It is quite sad how we don’t get to intern at hospitals for the CNA class as they used to pre-COVID because I joined the class to get internship experience but due to the risk of COVID, I wasn’t able to,” senior Tiffany Burch said. 

Still, students who participate in the Dental Back Office course have been assigned to dental offices to intern at and gain first hand experience. Starting Jan.18, students in the Dental Back Office course will begin interning and consulting with patients. 

“I know safety is more important than anything so I just hope everything can get back to normal and students can once again enjoy taking part in unique opportunities like the ones in ROP,” senior Emroz Sandhu said.

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