Police Academy, dental assisting classes resume under rigorous health and safety guidelines

Monte WhitePolice Academy recruit Monte White takes a defensive driving course at Camp Grayling May 18 (download a high-resolution version here)TRAVERSE CITY — Following strict health and safety protocols, police academy and dental assisting students resumed face-to-face training at Northwestern Michigan College this week in accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest executive order, which amends the scope of previous orders to allow training for first responders and healthcare workers.

This instructional delivery began today and will allow 13 police academy recruits to complete their training in time for a state licensing exam on June 9, after which they will be eligible to go to work, increasing the ranks of first responders in communities across Michigan.

“I’m thrilled that we’re reopening,” said Police Academy Director Gail Kurowski “Most of these recruits have jobs waiting. A lot of area law enforcement agencies are hurting for new hires.”

Dental assisting students, meanwhile, began to make up 30 hours of chairside lab time lost when NMC shifted classes from face-to-face to online formats in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Divided into two five-hour shifts, the 13 students will complete their lab time by May 26. They will then have one clinical class remaining in June, in addition to summer internships, before taking board exams, now set for August.

“There are lots of safety protocols before they even come in the door,” said Health Occupations Academic Chair and Dental Assisting Instructor Beckie Wooters, who plans to work at least 12-hour days in order to compress the lab training into one week.

Dental students will use an app to check their symptoms at home. On campus, their temperatures will be taken and documented. They will be given masks, gloves, safety glasses and shields. Students would normally practice some procedures on each other, but not this year.

“We are only working on mannequins,” Wooters said. She said it’s important for students to make up the lab time now in order to be prepared for internships required this summer. Some students already are working at offices on the emergency procedures now allowed by the state. Wooters expects more to begin once elective dental procedures resume.

Police Academy recruits resumed their training at Camp Grayling, and will complete a four-day defensive driving class by Thursday. As with dental assisting, safety protocols include basic symptom screening for each recruit and instructor, and temperature readings using a no-touch digital infrared thermometer. In driving courses, recruits must also wear masks and gloves.

“I followed both OSHA and CDC guidelines and recommendations in forming my COVID-19 preparedness plan,” said Kurowski.

On May 26 recruits will return to NMC’s main campus for two more weeks of training in three areas: speed measurement, defensive tactics and criminal investigation. Some class days will stretch as long as 11 or 12 hours in order to complete the training as efficiently as possible.

For Defensive Tactics, where keeping a six-foot social distance is not possible, an N-95 mask will be required, as well as gloves and goggles. Except for that course and when in a vehicle, recruits and instructors must remain six feet apart during all training, including at meals and during breaks. They will occupy the same seats every day and work with the same partners to further minimize the opportunity for spread. Instructors will stagger break times to ensure the hallway and restrooms are not overcrowded.

“We are fortunate that the Governor’s order allowed these two programs to resume their activities,” said Stephen Siciliano, NMC Vice President for Educational Services. “Our Law Enforcement and Dental Assisting program students will be able to safely complete their course work, stay on track to complete their certificates and degrees, and fill needed professional positions in our communities.”

For more information on NMC’s Police Academy, visit nmc.edu/police.

For more information on NMC’s Dental Assisting program, visit nmc.edu/dental.

Release date: may 18, 2020

For more information:

Diana Fairbanks
Executive Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Communications
(231) 995-1019


Northwestern Michigan College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, genetic information, height, weight, marital status or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. nmc.edu/non-discrimination