Virtual Math Training

Rebekah Novak, Water Compliance Specialist for Massachusetts, Online Tech Team Lead

Since COVID-19 hit in the early months of 2020, almost all businesses, schools, and government departments were impacted in a very big way; we could not meet face to face anymore. Every business was affected differently. But the show had to go on for essential workers like highway and construction workers, medical field staff, food industry, drinking water operations and wastewater operations. For many of these fields, people must earn contact hours/credits/education credits for the license they hold by taking classes to stay educated and informed. But with the limitations on in-person meetings, and how many people are allowed in a room, how are these license holders supposed to get the training they need to maintain their licenses? A little leeway was given for those people who had to renew their drivers license, but are Wastewater Operators allowed to to lapse in credits? No. License holders waited to see if they would be given extensions on earning credits but decision makers did not loosen up on the rules. Every person with a Wastewater License in the State of Massachusetts still had to earn 20 Total Contact Hours (TCHs) by the same deadline as before COVID.

For the first few months of the “lock-down” people just figured they had a whole year ahead of them to earn credits, but as the months passed, the clock kept counting down, yet the states did not open up. Luckily, some organizations adapted and learned a new platform: virtual training. RCAP Solutions was one of those organizations that jumped right into virtual training as soon as they saw there was no end it sight to the shutdowns. Wanting to keep their staff members as well as the public safe at home or in the office, RCAP Solutions decided if they couldn’t bring people to their training, they would bring their training to the people, virtually.
Once the virtual platform was learned, the PowerPoint presentations were then altered to a friendlier format for virtual learning. The first session to go online was Basic Math for Operators. This course is intended to help both existing operators brush up on their math skills, (while earning credits) but also to help future operators prepare to pass the exam, by learning about the basic math concepts that are applied every day on the job (and it the exam).

Teaching Math in person is not all that easy but teaching it virtually made for some additional difficulties. RCAP does not typically use webcams because most clients/attendees do not have a strong internet connection and the webcams use too much bandwidth. So how do you know if your attendees are understanding the concepts you are teaching without being able to SEE them? There are several tools to use to make sure the attendees are paying attention and keeping up with you on the other side of that computer screen:

1. PowerPoint/Presentation visuals:
a. use more animation than in person slides to make the slides more interesting. The attendees have little else to look at and many distractions within an arm’s reach.
b. Use less words on each slide. Too much reading on a computer screen is tiresome, so add more pictures to convey the ideas that are discussed.

2. Virtual Interactive tools:
a. Polls: gather information or beliefs about attendees. ASK how the pace of the class is, or if they understand the topic at hand.
b. Tests: quiz attendees on covered topics to keep them engaged, and to get an idea of how well they understand that topic.
c. Virtual hand raising: ask yes/no questions or invite attendees to ask questions
d. Virtual group work: create a sense of community and work together to complete an activity
e. Chat box: ask attendees to answer your questions in the chat box. Ask them to ask questions of their own in the chat box. Get people comfortable with the chat box right away, ask icebreaker questions to get them warmed up to it.
f. Evaluation: break your evaluations down by topic, so they can be rated individually. Ask attendees to rate the platform, or each of the tools separately to see how effective they were. Ask for suggestions to make the training session better.

3. Voice:
a. Inflection: Work on your presentation voice. Try to use inflections, making your voice pitch go up and down to signify important words, grammar, or the end of sentences. Monotone voices are hard to listen to for long periods of time.
b. Quality: Be sure the quality of your audio is good. Use a headset or a microphone so your audience only hears your voice. Tinny or muffled voices are hard to understand.

4. Technical assistance: One of the most important tools to have ready is technical assistance. Some people run into issues and if they have never used online training before, they will need some help to navigate, or else, they will most likely give up and sign off. Have an extra person or two who can help individuals solve their technical issues, like connecting to audio in the beginning of a training.
Are you a License holder looking for more virtual training? Sign up for the email lists of your local associations or memberships. Express your interest in learning about a certain topic to a virtual trainer that puts on multiple sessions a year.

Are you a committee member/government official/association looking to present topics to a certain audience but do not have a way to do so? Talk to someone who recently put on a training to see if they will host your topics. Or see if they know of others who simply “host” presentations on their platform license.

Virtual trainings and presentations can be intimidating, but with the right tools and a little preparation, they can be as effective as a face to face meeting. As an added bonus, they are incredibly attractive for busy people, cut down on travel time and expenses, and promote safe learning and communications during this challenging time.

Central Mass COVID Funds for Mortgage & Rental Assistance

 

RCAP Solutions is pleased to offer new financial assistance programs for Worcester County families impacted by the recent Covid-19 pandemic and state of emergency. The Greater Worcester Community Fund Grant (GWCFG) for Mortgage & Rental Assistance is provided by the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and supported by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide up to $4,000 of direct funding to eligible households.

The fund can assist with payments for rent or mortgage arrears accrued no earlier than April 1, 2020.

In order to be eligible, a household must:

  • currently rent or own housing as a primary residence in Massachusetts
  • have a gross household income that is between the 50% and 80% Area Median Income (AMI)
  • have a housing emergency due to a financial hardship related to or exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis

Please click here for our press release: GWCFG Press Release

Households can assess their eligibility by looking at the income levels for Worcester County, found here: Income limits listing.

Questions & How to Apply:

Please note, the office is closed to the public at this time and visits are by appointment only.

RCAP Solutions Offering Funds to Assist Local Residents Experiencing Financial Hardship Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

(Worcester, MA) –  Solutions is pleased to offer two new financial assistance programs for Worcester County households impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Greater Worcester Community Fund Grant (GWCFG), is now available to provide funds to assist residents needing mortgage protection or rental assistance, in order to prevent homelessness.

GWCFG is funded by two grants totaling $408,500 provided by the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, supported by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, which supports those across the state most impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis, including the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.

The grants can provide up to $4,000 of direct funding to eligible individuals and households. Payments are focused on those who will be homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless due to rent or mortgage arrears and must demonstrate proof of financial hardship. In order to be eligible for GWCFG, a household must currently rent or own housing as a primary residence in Worcester county, have a gross household income that is between the 50% and 80% Area Median Income (AMI), and have a housing emergency due to financial adversity related to, or exacerbated by, the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are pleased to offer this new financial assistance program through the Greater Worcester Community Foundation to residents in Worcester County,” stated Karen A. Koller, President & CEO of RCAP Solutions. “This grant allows RCAP to fulfil its mission and support a wide range of households, with a variety of income levels. It is critical that citizens in Worcester County and across the Commonwealth sustain stable housing during this pandemic.”

Households can assess their eligibility by looking at the income levels for Worcester County, which can be found on our HCEC application page. We encourage individuals or families who think they may be eligible to reach out with questions or to apply, by visiting: http://www.rcapsolutions.org/hcec-application/ or call 800.488.1969, Monday – Friday, between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. The office is closed between 12:00 and 1:00 PM each day. Documents can be emailed to HCEC@rcapsolutions.org or faxed to 508.365.6008. Please note, the office is closed to the public at this time and visits are by appointment only.

RCAP Solutions’ Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) offers answers to a wide range of questions about housing issues. Tenants, landlords, prospective buyers, and homeowners can access information designed to maximize housing stability, strengthen investments, and minimize disputes. RCAP Solutions is one of nine member agencies in the statewide Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, offering housing assistance, services, and information to low-and moderate-income residents of Massachusetts.

About RCAP Solutions, Inc.
RCAP Solutions is a thriving integrated community development corporation working with a multi-faceted suite of services and opportunities. Established in 1969, RCAP Solutions’ mission is to foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and the communities in which they live. For more information, please visit www.rcapsolutions.org.

Beer Waste Information from MassDEP

Notice to Local Boards of Health, Restaurants, and other Hospitality Associations about Beer Waste

The closure of restaurants, bars, and other venues due to the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in an abundance of beer and other food waste going stale in these establishments. Beer, in particular, has a very high Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), making it what is referred to as “high strength wastewater”, which also has a very low pH. The combination of the beer’s high BOD and low pH, make disposing of stale beer in the sewer system extremely problematic, with the potential to cause damaging conditions within the sewer system and to potentially overwhelm the receiving wastewater treatment plant. Given the current volumes of stale beer and other food waste across the Commonwealth, it is imperative that it is disposed of properly. MassDEP and MWRA recommend:

  1. Stale beer and other food waste should not be disposed of down the drain.
  2. Restaurants, bars, and other venues should work with distributor to collect full and partially full kegs.
  3. Through MassDEP or RecyclingWorks, distributors and other venues can explore options for disposal at anaerobic digestion facilities. More information can be found here. For assistance, contact RecyclingWorks at 888-254-5525 or email info@recyclingworksma.com.

ERMA – Funding for Households Impacted by Coronavirus Crisis

 

RCAP Solutions is pleased to offer new financial assistance programs for Worcester County families impacted by the recent Covid-19 pandemic and state of emergency. The Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development provides up to $4,000 of direct funding to eligible households.

ERMA can help to fund payments with rent or mortgage arrears accrued no earlier than April 1, 2020 or upcoming rent or mortgage payments.

In order to be eligible for ERMA, a household must:

  • currently rent or own housing as a primary residence in Massachusetts
  • have a gross household income that is between the 50% and 80% Area Median Income (AMI)
  • have a housing emergency due to a financial hardship related to or exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis

Please click here for our flyer: ERMA_Flyer

Please click here for our press release: ERMA Press Release

Households can assess their eligibility by looking at the income levels for Worcester County, found here: Income limits listing.

Questions & How to Apply:

Please note, the office is closed to the public at this time and visits are by appointment only.

Funds available for households experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19

RCAP Solutions offering Funds to assist households Experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic and State of Emergency

(Worcester, MA) – RCAP Solutions is pleased to offer new financial assistance programs for Worcester County families impacted by the recent Covid-19 pandemic and state of emergency. The Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program, funded by The CARES Act through the Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD), can provide up to $4,000 of direct funding to eligible households.

ERMA can help to fund payments with rent or mortgage arrears accrued no earlier than April 1, 2020 or upcoming rent or mortgage payments. In order to be eligible for ERMA, a household must currently rent or own housing as a primary residence in Massachusetts, have a gross household income that is between the 50% and 80% Area Median Income (AMI), and have a housing emergency due to a financial hardship related to, or exacerbated by, the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are pleased to offer this new financial assistance program through DHCD to households in Worcester County,” stated Karen A. Koller, President & CEO of RCAP Solutions. “This vital resource allows RCAP to fulfil its mission and support a wide range of residents, with a variety of income levels. It is critical that families in Worcester County and across the Commonwealth sustain stable housing during this pandemic.”

Households can assess their eligibility by looking at the income levels for Worcester County, which can be found on our HCEC application page. We encourage individuals or families who think they may be eligible to please reach out with questions or to apply, by visiting: http://www.rcapsolutions.org/hcec-application/ or call 800.488.1969, Monday – Friday, between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. The office is closed between 12:00 and 1:00 PM each day. Documents can be emailed to HCEC@rcapsolutions.org or faxed to 508.365.6008. Please note, the office is closed to the public at this time and visits are by appointment only.

RCAP Solutions’ Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) offers answers to a wide range of questions about housing issues.  Tenants, landlords, prospective buyers, and homeowners can access information designed to maximize housing stability, strengthen investments, and minimize disputes.  RCAP Solutions is one of nine member agencies in the statewide Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, offering housing assistance, services, and information to low-and moderate-income residents of Massachusetts.

About RCAP Solutions, Inc.

RCAP Solutions is a thriving integrated community development corporation working with a multi-faceted suite of services and opportunities. Established in 1969, RCAP Solutions’ mission is to foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and the communities in which they live. For more information, please visit www.rcapsolutions.org.

Important information about COVID-19 from the RCAP Solutions USVI team

Dear Valued Colleague,

The COVID-19 response from RCAP Solutions is intended to keep our customers, and staff isolated from exposure and potentially stem the spread of the virus. We are still open for business with staff available for phone and remote web-based meetings. Staff travel to meetings is postponed during this time period as well; if they were scheduled to attend an in-person meeting, they would be in touch to coordinate remote participation.

We have the tools and resources to meet with you remotely; please be in touch with your contact to reschedule any meetings scheduled until April 21st. On trainings and workshops scheduled in all our states and territories, look for updates in the next few weeks with either links for online workshops or postponement plans. Our National partner is negotiating Training Contact Hours for web-based training vs. the required in-person trainings, and we will communicate when we have more information.

We have included a World Health Organization technical briefing on water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for the COVID-19 virus as well as the latest information from the USVI Department of Health, which has guidance on mitigation strategies.

Thank you for your understanding and assistance as we take these steps.

Sincerely,

The RCAP Solutions Team

USVI Department of Health Alert

What you need to know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019

Handwashing: Keeping Your Family Healthy

Stay Healthy. Wash Your Hands.

Share Facts About COVID-19

Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick

Stop the Spread of Germs

Información importante sobre COVID-19 del equipo de RCAP Solutions Puerto Rico

Estimados Colegas Valiosos, Compañeros de Trabajo y Comunidad:

La respuesta de RCAP Solutions al COVID-19, tiene como objetivo mantener a nuestros clientes y al personal aislados de la exposición y potencialmente detener la propagación del virus. Estamos abiertos para asuntos de los negocios con personal disponible para contestar llamadas y reuniones remotas vía internet a través del portal. Viajes del personal a reuniones, están pospuestos durante este período de tiempo, así como también las reuniones programadas en persona, por lo que se pondrán en contacto para coordinar la participación remota.

Tenemos las herramientas y recursos para reunirnos con usted de forma remota. Por favor, póngase en contacto con el proveedor de asistencia técnica para reprogramar cualquier reunión pospuesta por esta situación hasta el 21 de abril. Sobre adiestramientos y talleres programados en todos los estados y territorios, busque actualizaciones en las próximas semanas en cualquiera de los enlaces para talleres en línea o planes aplazados. Nuestro socio nacional está negociando las horas de contacto de capacitación en línea versus la capacitación presencial, por lo que nos comunicaremos cuando tengamos más información.

Hemos incluido información técnica de la Organización Mundial de la Salud sobre el agua, el saneamiento, la higiene y el manejo de desperdicios para el virus COVID-19, así como la información más reciente de la Oficina de Servicios Comunitarios / Salud y Servicios Humanos, que ofrece orientación sobre estrategias de mitigación para una variedad de instalaciones.

Gracias por su comprensión y cooperación, a medida que tomamos estas medidas.

Sinceramente,

El Equipo de RCAP Solutions

Carta circular: medidas de protección por COVID-19

Lo que necesita saber sobre la enfermedad del coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

Síntomas de la enfermedad del coronavirus 2019

Lavado de manos: Mantenga sana a su familia

Los microbios están por todos lados

Comparta la información sobre el COVID-19

Qué hacer si contrae la enfermedad del coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

Detenga la propagación de los microbios

Worcester Office is Closed

RCAP Solutions’ Worcester Office is currently closed.

*Update: RCAP Solutions will re-open to staff on Wednesday, March 25. At that time we will continue to be closed to public visits, but will be available via email, phone, and fax. We ask that clients be patient as all return messages and paperwork from the previous week will be completed on a first come, first served basis. 

It was brought to our attention that a client who visited the office  later tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the leadership team made the decision to close until further notice.

We are monitoring the situation daily. Decisions are being made based on the most current information available and our policies and response to this situation are subject to change without notice. Our concern is for the health and safety of staff and clients.

The team will continue to assess the situation and will make a decision as to when we feel it is safe to reopen the office.

Please check our website and social media pages for additional information.

If you are a housing client: Please note that cases and files are not being processed until it is safe for staff to return to the office. Paperwork can still be submitted and we will resume processing when we return. For more information on program and contact information, please visit: http://www.rcapsolutions.org/closing.

This message is regarding our Worcester Office Only and does not affect our Community Resources Services or Staff.

We appreciate your attention and apologize for any inconvenience it may cause.

Thank you. Be safe and be well everyone.

*Due to the constantly evolving COVID-19 crisis this announcement may be subject to change without notice.

RCAP Solutions Closed to the Public

RCAP Solutions is Closed to the Public Until Further Notice.*

This decision was made with an abundance of caution and in the interest of protecting the health and safety of our staff and clients. During this time, the office will not be open to the public for face to face meetings. There will be no RAFT hours for onsite intakes, housing workshops, first time homebuyer classes or any in-person meetings during this time. In order to continue to serve our clients to the best of our ability, staff will still be available via email, phone, and fax.

Please note: Email is the best means of contact for quicker response.

Housing Programs:

  • Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC): Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), First Time Home Buyer Counseling and Education, or other housing counseling assistance, please email: HCEC@rcapsolutions.org, documents can be faxed to: 508.365.6008.
  • HomeBase and SafeStep Clients: Please contact your case workers directly.

Additional housing information can be found here: http://www.rcapsolutions.org/individual-and-family-resources/.

Our phone number is: 800.488.1969 and staff is available Monday – Friday from 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM.

The Worcester office is closed from 12 – 1 PM each day for lunch.

Senior/Disabled & Family Housing:  

  • Senior, Disabled & Family Housing Applications can be found here: http://www.rcapsolutions.org/housing-applications, documents can be faxed to: 978.630.2751.
  • All RCAP Solutions’ managed communities are closed to the public at this time. Access is limited to caregivers and aides, and essential visitors, defined as those bringing necessary supplies, groceries and medications to a resident, as well as property operations.
  • We strongly recommend Residents:
    -Remain on campus and not visit public places;
    -Maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet) at all times.

Community Resources:

  • Technical Assistance Providers are available for phone and remote web-based meetings.  Staff travel to meetings is postponed during this time period and any previously scheduled face to face meetings will now be conducted remotely.
  • Updates will be provided for training and workshops scheduled in all our states and territories, with either links for online workshops or postponement plans.  Our National partner is negotiating Training Contact Hours for web-based training vs. the required in-person training and we will communicate when we have more information.

We appreciate your attention and support of this temporary precaution and apologize for any inconvenience it may cause.

*Subject to change without notice due to rapidly changing environment.