Dear TLC Family, Friends, Clients and Students:
As we continue to navigate the challenges of the pandemic, the Tennessee Language Center is committed to serving you in the safest, most effective ways possible. I would like to take a moment to update you on the status of our classes and services.
As of July 2020, we have re-opened our administrative offices, with most staff working remotely at least some of the time. Still, we do maintain regular office hours, and you are welcome to make an appointment if you need a face-to-face meeting. However, we prefer to handle as much as possible remotely, for your safety and ours.
If you do come to our building, you will be screened in the lobby, and your temperature will be taken. You will also be required to wear a mask or other face covering when entering and exiting the building, and are asked to keep it on while circulating through our facility. This policy is a directive of the State of Tennessee for access to this State-owned facility.
How COVID-19 is affecting our classes and service delivery:
Most world language classes are now being offered online, and we have improved the platform to incorporate more interactivity. Some custom language classes have opted to continue to meet in-person. Whether to meet in-person or online is entirely at the discretion of the instructor and the students of these private classes. We are fortunate that small groups can safely socially distance in our facilities, and we respect the autonomy of those involved to make informed decisions for themselves in these circumstances. We will not, however, permit meetings and classes that cannot be held safely, according to CDC guidelines.
In the ESL program, all classes are being offered online. Group and custom classes meet through an online platform with our TESL-trained English instructors. We understand that navigating these technologies can be challenging, especially if English is not your first language, so our instructors and staff are assisting our students in gaining access and learning the online platform, sometimes with the use of our telephonic interpretation services.
Translation services, by their nature, can readily be handled via computer. Documents are scanned and sent to our project managers, and fortunately, we have not missed a beat. We then deliver completed translations either electronically or through the mail.
Interpretation services have been conducted via video remote and over the telephone throughout the pandemic, and we have recently resumed in-person assignments. The in-person assignments are undertaken with careful attention to safety and with the understanding that any assignment that could potentially be risky may be declined or conducted using a different platform.
Most of our training programs have migrated to the virtual world. We now offer online courses in cultural awareness, systemic racism and institutional bias, and will be offering our court interpreter workshops and our TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) Certification Program online.
One program that will meet in-person beginning in August, barring any drastic changes in recommended protocol, is the Medical Interpreter Training course, which is the result of our partnership with Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Interpreter Services. We have adequate space to practice social distancing for this course and look forward to having students in our facility.
In addition to the social distancing, it has been, and will continue to be, our practice to routinely sterilize surfaces and observe all recommendations for best practices during this pandemic. Additionally:
- We have purchased several large-room capacity air purifiers that utilize HEPA filters and UV light to provide clean air delivery;
- We have a Plexiglas shield in place at our reception station and have portable partitions that can used for closer proximity meetings face-to-face (in addition to the wearing of masks);
- We have hand sanitizer stationed throughout our offices and classrooms, and will do so throughout the pandemic; and
- We have marked the floors where groups might congregate with 6-feet spacing guides, and have limited our break room to two-person occupancy.
Finally, we are determined, and I remind you all, to observe the following CDC recommendations for preventative steps to stay healthy:
- Wear a mask.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, and dry them thoroughly, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Utilize an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60% alcohol at minimum) where applicable and if soap is not available.
- Stay home when feeling sick or experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19.
We intend to follow recommendations made by public health officials in the state and the counties we serve regarding meetings, gatherings and classes and will advise of any additional closures or postponement of services.
Janice Snow Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Executive Director, TN Language Center