Culinary Classes Create New Ways to Cook

It’s now our ninth month into hybrid learning, and students are still having a hard time adapting to the “new normal.” Now that we are on an A/B schedule, teachers have to adapt to teaching online simultaneously and in-person simultaneously, which can be hard to balance. The Culinary Class is one of the most challenging courses to teach during Covid; since it’s a hands-on class, they have to be extremely cautious dealing with food. I had culinary class last year, and now I’m a teacher’s aid for Mrs. Wayman this term, so I can see the year difference Covid has negatively impacted this class specifically.

One downside of distance learning is students have to make notes from home, and it’s less likely for a student to speak up during a Teams call if they have any questions. This learning style can be overwhelming for a student and frustrating to the teacher if they don’t get all the resources and help needed to be successful.

Last year the Culinary class was able to do many group projects and activities involving cooking, but due to Covid regulations, not everyone can be on campus and cooking together. When Covid struck back in March, and we were strictly online, culinary kids had to cook simple meals from their own home, meaning they missed out on all of the unique dishes they could’ve made in their kitchen group. This year’s students can cook, but there are restrictions. Students have to remain at a distance, and no physical copies can be handed in for grading because it’s all online now.
Teaching and going over lesson plans will be a challenge since the teacher limits what they can touch to help you. There used to be five people in a kitchen group to balance out all the kitchen jobs, but now we have two in a group to keep social distancing stay safe. Preparing and distributing food the students have to cook can be difficult because students have to be very cautious about what they touch to make sure no one gets sick. Twelve kids in group A show up to cook, and on February 4th, they will be making chocolate chip cookies.

The Prowl asked Mrs. Wayman, the culinary teacher, to answer some questions on working with Covid regulations and protocols.

MB: What are the troubles you have encountered due to Covid?
Ms. Wayman: It was hard to teach all students when they were all online, but at least they were all doing the same thing at the same time. Once some students were in class, it has been hard to get all of them on their in-class day. I have lab classes and don’t know how many students will show up from one day to the next. And those still online don’t get as much assistance from me. They are often doing independent work. They don’t receive direct teaching from me.

MB: How are you practicing social distancing?
Ms. Waman: I have established new protocols in the kitchens beyond the already demonstrated and sanitation required in the cooking labs. Now students must place their aprons in the laundry after each use. They are split into 2 or 3 students per kitchen group. Usually, I will have 34 students in those same six kitchens. I have many of the often-used food items in each kitchen, so fewer people touch the containers. Only two people can get supplies at the same time.”

MB: Do you have to do anything differently when it comes to preparing the food?
Ms. Wayman: I do not have students do anything differently in preparing the food. The recipes must be followed and followed safely.

Wayman finished our conversation by adding, “I love teaching the hands-on parts of all my classes. It isn’t easy to simultaneously teach online bookwork while I am in the kitchens or show students how to use the sewing machines. I have found it impossible for me to stay distanced from the students. I try to remember to keep my hands off the equipment the students are using. I’m working on it. But wearing masks can only increase the sanitation in the kitchens.”

The Prowl wishes to thank Ms. Wayman for helping us with this story. We appreciate her hard work to help the students here at WRHS find success during challenging times. Great teachers and great students make WRHS a great place to be.