REXBURG, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - When businesses and schools shut down due to the coronavirus, Paul Mitchell school in Rexburg fell into a gray area.
In the state of Idaho, there was no distance education allowed for cosmetology. In comparison, Californian Paul Mitchell schools conduct 25 percent of classes online.
COVID-19 restrictions forced Idaho to adapt and overcome. The Rexburg school took its hands-on approach online with up to 600 students using Zoom to conduct their lessons.
Cosmetology students are required to complete 160 hours of theoretical work in order to obtain licensure. Paul Mitchell professors started those hours of training virtually during the shut down with a heightened emphasis on sanitation. Cosmetology students received certification in sanitation practices before they were allowed back into the traditional classroom.
Emma Long is the director of education for five Paul Mitchell schools, including the Rexburg location.
She says the coronavirus restrictions have helped not only herself as an educator, but it has better prepared her students for their future professions.
“I would say that COVID-19 was excellent in the fact that it made us reevaluate. It made us look at where in our education, we could be stronger,” Long said, “It gave us the opportunity to make sure that we are delivering on that promise of a Paul Mitchell education.”
They reopened their classrooms to students again on May 18.
Dax Hall is a future professional barber who is attending Paul Mitchell for his second time. He says his first time around, students went through a core program in a classroom setting and then were sent out on the floor for hands-on training.
After COVID-19 hit, students began conducting their schooling online. He says an instructor would cut hair while the students followed along on the live call. An assignment on the lesson was due the same night.
Hall says COVID-19 really opened the students’ eyes to how important sanitation is, especially because Paul Mitchell takes clients out of the public and into the classroom. He says the learning leaders have been great, working around the clock to make sure the students’ education is not shortchanged by COVID-19.
Hall thinks students are actually more prepared for their futures because of COVID-19. He thinks the emphasized sanitation will help them be more selective in choosing where they want to work after graduation.
“They’ll be more aware of what shops they want to work in by going in and shadowing and seeing oh well, this place is dirty, I don’t want to work here,” Hall said.
Long says cosmetology professionals that normally cost thousands of dollars to attend a class, volunteered their time to students for free during the shut down.
“It united the cosmetology industry, not only just for schools but also for salons,” Long said.
The governor categorized Paul Mitchell as a salon and they reopened as such in June.
“I know that Paul Mitchell is doing everything we can to make sure that everyone is safe when they come into our school," Hall said. "We’re sanitizing our kits and making sure everything is clean.”
Paul Mitchell staff will accommodate each client’s safety preferences when appointments are booked. Long says their school has always followed very strict sanitation guidelines and they have had to make very minimal adjustments.