The Fort Hood Soldier Development Center and Education Services Division has been on an over two-month hiatus like many other facilities on post, but they are slowly beginning to open back up.
The Soldier Development Center closed its doors March 26, due to COVID-19, and only one employee continued to work while only performing one operation.
“With the installation closures, I was the only member of the ESD that remained mission essential. In the interest of the health and welfare of our staff, all other Education Center personnel were sent home,” Michael Engen, education services officer for the Directorate of Human Resources Education Services Division, said. “The only operations we sustained was the clearing of Soldiers transitioning from the Army.”
That became the norm through the month of April until May 18, when other employees were allowed to return. Now things are beginning to come up to speed and appointments are scheduled online and carried out on the phone.
“At any given time, we have from four to six guidance counselors providing virtual counseling support, with some of them working from the office and others working from home under formal telework agreements,” Engen said. “The process starts with the Soldier going to our Timetap Appointment System to schedule an appointment, and our counselors then calling the individual at their allotted time to provide counseling and administrative support over the telephone.”
It is important that Soldiers can still access the ESD’s education programs and services, despite the pandemic.
“The Army makes a very heavy investment in the development of its workforce,” Engen stated. “Whether providing counseling services, tuition assistance, basic/remedial skills enhancement, test proctoring services – we’re just here to support the personal and professional development needs of our Soldiers.”
One of the ESD’s most popular spots has been the public access computer lab, which houses 85 computers for Soldiers to use for educational, personal or Army training purposes; unfortunately, due to the virus it’s currently closed.
“One of the first programs we closed because of the pandemic was the computer lab. The computer lab can support up to 85 patrons at a time, all of whom were in close proximity to one another. It was not unusual to have as many as 10 individuals using the same computer, keyboard, and mouse each and every day. This resulted in too many opportunities to transmit the virus, and too much potential risk to our clients,” Engen stated. “We typically serve between 400 and 450 clients per day in the computer lab.”
The education center’s Facebook page is a great place to go for information.
“Please monitor our Facebook page on a regular basis for updates to ESD operations, and be sure to like and follow us for other related content. We will be resuming additional programs and services as it becomes safe to do so and at the guidance of our leadership,” Engen said.
If you have questions or are looking for updates visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FortHoodEducationServices/ and to schedule an appointment visit https://fhesd_appt.timetap.com.