Center for Seabees Learning Sites Adjust Courses in Response to COVID-19

By Amber Vaglica, Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering Public Affairs

Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering’s (CSFE) learning sites fully embrace the “CAN DO” spirit of the Seabees by finding creative ways to continue to train accessions-level Sailors and keep up morale while mitigating COVID-19 risk.

Utilitiesman 1st Class Jalesa Thomas, an instructor at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Port Hueneme, California, left, receives a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for her exceptional efforts in minimizing COVID-19 exposure risk while maximizing the quality of instruction, student morale, and the safety of the command. Photo by Amber Vaglica


Petty Officer 1st Class Jalesa Thomas, an instructor at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Port Hueneme, California, integrated web-based collaborative training to remote students in Utilitiesman “C” School. The virtual classroom experience allows instructors to interact with students through audio and visual while also using a whiteboard, screen sharing, and a chat room to communicate throughout the lessons. The students are able to access the training using the tablets provided to them. From there, all students login to the session every day at the same time for the in-class lessons.

Thomas’ actions enabled the course to start on schedule and facilitated live-discussion forums on technical competency and character despite the movement restrictions set forth by COVID-19 guidelines.

“The effectiveness of an opportunity such as web-based training is reflected in the student’s understanding of what is being taught and how they are able to learn,” said Thomas. “With the tools that a virtual classroom can provide such as, visual, audio, a white board, uploading files, chat, and breakout groups, the Instructor can effectively teach most information for student’s to retain as they would in an actual classroom.”

Civil Engineer Corps Officers School (CECOS) is leveraging Naval Education Training Command’s (NETC) Moodle sandbox along with webinar and teleconferencing capabilities to respond rapidly to COVID-19 travel restrictions. CECOS has successfully developed and executed three courses through distance learning to include Economic Analysis, Public Works Department Intermediate, and Military Construction Programming and Budgeting, two of which were scheduled for execution in Yokosuka, Japan. Seven additional courses are in development for distance learning.

Initial feedback from students is very positive. Although there are drawbacks to the inability to host in-person training from students around the globe in a classroom environment, adjusting to deliver much needed training has been well received and highly effective. CECOS is continuing to learn and make adjustments to improve student engagement to bring aspects of in-person interactions to the live, synchronous web-sessions.

“Being agile and adjusting quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced risk to those that would require travel to receive training as well as our instructors that travel to deliver our courses around the globe,” said Lt. Cmdr. Steve Parks, CECOS’ training officer.

“Delivering courses remotely allows us to keep up with social distancing practices, protecting our most valuable resources by keeping our sailors and civilians out of airports and crowded classrooms.”

Staff at CSFE Detachment Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; and NCTC Gulfport, Mississippi, also continue to develop unique ways to “flatten the curve” all while still maintaining good order and discipline. Modifying movement of personnel to individual classes and limiting the number of personnel in a formation, while ensuring double-arm interval spacing between personnel is maintained 24/7.

“As the times continue to change, one thing is for sure, the Seabees [throughout CSFE] continue to stay flexible, unite efforts, and deliver fully-capable and eager Seabees to units across the globe,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jonathan McGrath, an instructor at CSFE Detachment Sheppard Air Force Base.

Established in 2003 by NETC, CSFE manages the following learning sites: CECOS, Port Hueneme; NCTC, Gulfport; NCTC, Port Hueneme; CSFE Detachment Fort Leonard Wood; and CSFE Detachment Sheppard Air Force Base. CSFE’s mission is to design, deliver, evaluate, and maintain construction, facilities engineering, and environmental training coupled with character development that enhances warfighting lethality and leadership capabilities in expeditionary construction and facilities management.

For more information on CSFE, follow CSFE on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CenterForSeabeesPortHueneme or visit www.public.navy.mil/netc/centers/csfe.

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