After finishing one last Zoom call, a student celebrates as they open an acceptance email to the Durham Public Schools Driver’s Education program for the upcoming fall.
In the 2021-22 school year, Durham School of the Arts (DSA) students are able to take the Driver’s Education course, with the booklet section taught on Zoom and the driving section occurring in-person in the greater Durham area. It’s currently structured this way with additional safety measures in place to reduce any chance of COVID-19 exposures while allowing the program to continue and reach its goals. Even though the course is taking a new hybrid approach, DSA students are relieved to be one step closer to getting their driver’s license, and instructors are thrilled to be teaching again.
“I seriously doubt the material is any different from that of any prior in-person courses,” Oliver Herndon, a freshman and former Driver’s Education student, articulated.
A student must attend Zoom classes for thirty hours to learn about driving, car maintenance, and other similar information. In years past, classes would meet in the DSA cafeteria, though students are pushed to the same extent in their learning either way.
“There are daily assignments and readings from the NC DMV handbook, as well as educational videos that are shown,” Herndon explained.
From there, individuals have to drive for six hours with the instructor to receive a certificate, during which both persons wear masks and the car windows are left cracked, in addition to other COVID-19 precautions that are taken.
“I sanitize the steering wheel, door, mirror adjustments, shifter, keys, basically anything being touched after each person drives the car,” Gregory Miller, the DSA Driver’s Education coordinator, commented.
While there aren’t any major workload or stress differences between the in-person and hybrid structures of this class, there is a time commitment students have to make, regardless.
“The additional two hours of instruction following our seven-hour school day was a bit strenuous on my schedule and took some time to get used to, but I do feel like I was eventually able to adjust,” Herndon expressed.
Working on a computer for a longer period of time can be stressful. Though, there are ways to smoothly transition into a new schedule and manage all of the course’s assignments, like taking short breaks or using a planner.
PHOTO CREDIT: STEPHANIE HUGHES
Cars stand still in the Durham School of the Arts’ student parking lot just before ‘A’ Lunch. All of the drivers of these cars have gone through the Driver’s Education program, and to those who are currently taking it, it’s a reminder of the independence that comes with driving.
“For others planning to take the course, I would strongly encourage them to use all of the extra time they have to finish their Driver’s Ed. assignments on time to avoid any type of falling behind,” Herndon advised.
Despite any speed bumps in the road to getting a license, especially in a pandemic, many involved in the program believe the benefits will one day be worth the work.
“Driving and being able to get yourself to school or a job is part of life in the U.S. Many bigger cities have public transportation, but people need to continue to learn how to drive,” Miller illustrated.
The sense of freedom that having a driver’s license brings motivates many to take this course. With many Driver’s Education students going to college soon, it’s essential that they learn to drive. But for some, it’s also about helping out at home.
“I would like to drive to gain some independence and take the burden off of my parents, especially as I get closer to the age to legally drive,” Herndon communicated.
These reasons are one factor in the decision to have the program continue once again. Instructors for this course not only take the students’ motivations to heart, but aim to shape them into the best drivers they can be.
“My main goal is for the student to be a safe driver. My next goal is for them to have the skills and some confidence to drive responsibly,” Miller affirmed.