Lenoir City High School’s culinary arts instructor Joslyn Johnson and her students have adapted as well as they can with the hybrid schedule.

Culinary arts is a hands-on class. To make the class partially or wholly virtual poses challenges Johnson never anticipated.

“It’s been very challenging to say the most,” Johnson said. “From day to day, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. They could tell us they’re closing school tomorrow. We just don’t know. … Now with the hybrid system, I have students twice a week, that’s it. So I’ve decided and really just came upon this that I’m going to have them to do their labs on the two days that I see them. That would be the only time that I really can do anything. The other times they’re going to have to read and do their assignments and be their own teacher.”

Johnson typically would teach a lesson, model the lesson and students would practice one day. Students would then be on their own the next day.

“So what I teach on Monday, I teach the same thing on Tuesday to different kids,” Johnson said. “… So that’s just really two lessons a week. The other three days, I’m like, ‘Babies, you all are going to have to pick up, read your stuff, read your lessons, get your assignments done.’ My kids are just now getting caught up with everything. Some still are not.”

Johnson has seven students who are completely virtual and receive no hands-on work, which is a large component of culinary arts curriculum. Labs consist of PowerPoints or other written work and assignments from textbooks.

Because of COVID-19 precautions, classes have had to miss out on special visitors and field trips. Johnson managed to have one visitor Sept. 28, her mentor, Greg Eisele, University of Tennessee Culinary and Catering program director, who showed students how to prepare various dishes.

“I try to have people in the industry to come,” Johnson said. “Even them taking field trips and going places. You can see and feel it and observe it more instead of someone just telling you. … There’s not any of that. We can’t do any of that. That’s out. So that’s why I had him come.”

Students have missed crucial aspects of Johnson’s curriculum. LCHS senior Kade Dixon, who attends Johnson’s Culinary Arts III class, has noticed a difference.

“I definitely feel like there’s something missing because I’m not sure what we’ve been doing in here every day,” Dixon said. “... Almost every day in here is something different, learn something new, cooking something different. So I’m not sure if the other classes have cooked something different or if we have our different schedules, and we did our competition and things we had different days to come do our assignments. We didn’t even get to see or help work on any of the other things that were there.”

Having the schedule back to normal would make the physical demands of the class easier, Dixon said.

“It’s been a little bit different for us because usually before we had the hybrid schedule and everything, we were all in here, and we all had to work together, and we all had to come together,” he said. “Now we only have — this class was just two people for the first half of the hybrid schedule, so it was harder because we had more to do, and the cleanup process with cooking and everything is harder because we only have two of us to clean and put everything up.”

LCHS senior Kayleigh Hart was an all-virtual student who shifted to the hybrid schedule because keeping up with the work was too much.

“I didn’t do my work because I didn’t understand it at home by myself,” Hart said. “I still don’t do it because I don’t understand it. … I just don’t like it. I’d rather go back to normal.”