SAU to offer new student COVID class


For The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — More than 650 students who will attend St. Ambrose University for the first time can get a head start on their SAU studies through a free, one-credit, four-week summer course online covering a global issue.

“College in the Time of COVID” classes began June 22 and will conclude July 17 for incoming first-year and new transfer students. The first week of required lessons introduced students to the university’s learning management system, its grading policies and other important student services. Students also learned SAU’s plans and policies for mitigating the potential spread of the coronavirus when the academic year officially begins on Aug. 17.

The following three weeks will explore topics surrounding the science of pandemics; the economics, history and policies of pandemics; and the social and behavioral impact of pandemics. Students choose a few pre-recorded lectures and presentations from among several offered each week, as SAU faculty and staff examine the impact of the coronavirus and other historic pandemics.


The concept for the course developed within the SAU College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), informed by the expertise of the college’s Master of Public Health degree program.

Sandra Cassady, dean of CHHS and the university’s vice president for strategic initiatives, said faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business also offered assistance and knowledge to build this course.

“We have over 30 members of our faculty and staff who raised their hand to participate in some way, shape or form,” Cassady said. “Many are excited about the topics and look forward to participating.”

Departments participating include the Master of Public Health program, History Department, Master of Physician Assistant studies, Master of Speech-Language Pathology, Master of Social Work and Doctor of Occupational Therapy programs. Also participating are the School of Education, SAU library, and undergraduate departments of accounting, kinesiology, marketing, philosophy and theology.

“By exposing students to an array of topics, all linked to COVID-19 and public health, we hope to prepare them for a healthy, successful start to their college experience during this unique time in history,” said Erica Thomas, an assistant professor in the kinesiology department. She organized the course with Kate Horberg, program coordinator for the Master of Public Health program.

Cassady said the course will provide a significant benefit to incoming students, as they work through SAU’s temporary “new normal,” which will include hybrid classes, along with requirements for wearing masks, social distancing and daily health monitoring.


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