After 9 Months Of Training Del-Tech Nursing Students Could Be Forced Out

A group of nursing students at Delaware Technical Community College (Del-Tech) are mentally exhausted and angry after abruptly being told they must withdraw from classes due to the pandemic.

In January a bright-eyed group of students began a journey on their way to becoming Delaware’s newest crop of nurses. Despite the pandemic, this group was determined to work hard, sacrifice, and push ahead. Some quit their jobs and rearranged their lives to accommodate the demanding schedule of nursing school. Others worked fewer hours and took a pay cut to work school into their lives.

Some of these young people say they signed up for nursing school because they are caregivers by nature, nonjudgmental, and want to make a difference in the world. Others say their compassion for people drives them to help those that are in their darkest hour.

When they started class in January, the students were only required to wear masks while in class. Just three to four weeks into their journey the group began visiting hospitals for in-person hands-on training (clinicals). When at a hospital facility the students were required to add goggles to the mask requirement.

Although money was tight, the students continued to pay for tuition, uniforms, supplies, and any books that were required.  Step-by-step they kept moving forward and gathering the in-class and hands-on hours they would need to graduate in December.

As the weather grew warmer and the summer semester began in May, the students were allowed to drop the goggles mandate and continued with just masks and biweekly Covid testing. Everything was moving ahead and going according to plan.

It wasn’t until the fall semester that things began to change. About a week after the fall semester began, on September 8th, in their first week of clinicals, for the semester, the students say they were told that starting on September 30th they would need weekly covid testing for the hands-on training portion of the class. The students, who have not been vaccinated for various reasons, did not have an issue with the new requirement and planned to fully abide by the new rules.

Just days after being told that a negative Covid test was the requirement, the student’s nursing journey began to unravel. The students say late on Friday, September 17th they were told that they would now be required to be fully vaccinated by September 30th. To comply with the new requirement some of the students quickly made appointments to get vaccinated. Shortly after the announcement, some got their first dose of the vaccine and others were scheduled to get vaccinated.

These efforts were in vain. “With an announcement being sent out so late in the day even if we received our first dose that day there would be no way to be considered as fully vaccinated”, pointed out one of the students.

With just a little over three months until their December graduation,  students learned that they were out. On September 22 the students noticed an announcement posted on their online class board stating that if they were not already fully vaccinated they would be removed from their clinical group and it was strongly suggested that they withdraw, as they could not pass their class without the required hands-on training hours. They were also informed that despite only needing three days more of hands-on training they would not be able to take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX).  The exam must be taken and passed for a prospective nurse to be licensed and certified. The rules for last year’s graduating class were relaxed for Covid-19 reason according to the students.  This was due to last year’s students who similarly did not have the required hands-on hours.

This determined group began fighting for their education. They were told by instructors to reach out to their director with questions. When they reached out they didn’t get much of a response according to some of the students. Others said that the response was there was nothing the school could do.  There has been talk on social media that the option of delaying hands-on training while the vaccination requirement was met, however, the students said they personally have not been offered that option.

A notice sent out to students stated that Del-Tech was informed by several medical facilities that it had been decided to require all students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 with no exemptions for any reason. “The clinical site’s decision is effective immediately. If you were previously given an exemption by any of these sites, it will no longer be honored.”

“If you wish to continue in the nursing and/or allied health program at this time, we recommend that you get vaccinated against COVID-19 immediately. In the alternative, you may withdraw from the nursing and/or allied health program and receive a full refund of any tuition that has been paid. You can return to the program on a seat available basis without reapplying, for up to one year from the time of withdrawal. Please understand that we cannot predict or guarantee that clinical agency vaccine mandates will end by that time.”

The students say that even though the notice sent out by administrators at Del-Tech said that they would receive a full refund of any tuition, they have their doubtsWhen they contacted the business office and financial aid staff they were told by staff that they have no idea what they’re talking about. Some students have paid out over $22,000 for tuition, uniforms, supplies, background/drug screening, and books to this point.

The students say that this has been mentally exhausting. They feel unsupported while trying to fight their case with the higher-ups while attending a twelve-credit time demanding course. On top of that, they say there has been little to no communication or follow-up from their administrators to plan their next steps.

One student said “After all of this and the way we have been treated I honestly don’t know if I will continue to pursue my nursing degree. I will likely change my major to something other than healthcare when I return to school.”

Despite all of their hard work and agreeing to take the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine it looks like these students will not see their graduation unless someone in leadership steps in. They will likely have to start over or change their life plans.