By Brianna Murphy
Photos by Victoria Deal
As the pandemic has affected both students and teachers, adapting to change is the key to success. At Tyler Junior College, COVID-19 policies have been a central focus. While the classrooms continue to change, the culinary world and thus TJC’s Culinary Department adjusts to fit the new demands of the public.
In addition, the Culinary Department faces challenges with social distance learning. Programs and clubs have been slower to start up this fall. Larry Matson, chair of the Culinary Department, emphasizes the importance of “maintaining six feet and having less people in classes.”
Classrooms are focused on individual work, a strict mask policy and frequent hand washing. Additionally, hybrid classes are offered, with labs in person, to enforce TJC’s social distancing procedures.
Typically group projects are abundant in class, but COVID-19 has altered assignments. Occasional group work continues, but classes prioritize to “keep people separated and [while] everyone is wearing a mask.”
Keeping germs out of the kitchen is the highest priority. “Everybody is washing hands,” Matson said. “We sanitize a lot; that is pretty standard for us.”
Along with classroom difficulties, the Apache Kitchen has faced similar issues. The Apache Kitchen is serving less and follows a stricter protocol. Matson said they “have been serving people but haven’t been serving as many people as we did in the past.”
Furthermore, social distanced dining areas have been implemented. All degree programs continue to be offered, which includes an associate in culinary arts, basic culinary certificate and pastry arts certificate.
Students graduating will still be able to participate in an assignment that celebrates their academic achievement. Students graduating this fall will create a five-course menu, develop the recipes, and will prepare the meals. Each student will have their menu featured one night in November. This allows students to test their skills in a realistic environment while gaining feedback from teachers.
Matson believes for students to succeed, they must “always make sure to be professional and present yourself in the best way possible.”
For students interested in enrolling, Matson encourages students “to have a passionate enthusiasm to get on your feet and work hard.” Furthermore, Matson added in the culinary business “you never know who you are going to cross so first impressions are very important.”