COVID-19NewsThe Buzz

College during a national pandemic

Face masks, social distancing and daily health checks. . . St. Ambrose University is working to try to ensure the safety of students and keep classrooms open as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be on the rise.

While many schools this year decided to go to fully virtual learning, St. Ambrose University was willing to do what it takes to get students and staff back on campus. This meant lots of changes needed to be made and protocols needed to be put in place.

One of the newest changes includes virtual learning for the rest of the fall semester and reduced face to face contact, including no campus activities and athletics. Details about how this will affect final exams are still being determined by each professor.

All students and staff pledged to follow the Bee Promise which lays out the safety protocols that all are expected to follow. These protocols were put in place with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in mind. Some of the protocols included wearing masks at all times when on campus, practicing social distancing/university established traffic patterns and filling out a daily symptom tracker.

Signs posted on all doors of the school that remind students, staff and visitors of the protocols put in place. Photo courtesy of Elena Vallejo.

These guidelines are consistently changing as new information about the virus is being discovered. The newest change is the requirement of face masks, stating that face shields aren’t protective enough.

Dean of Students Christopher Waugh explains how crucial it is for students and staff to follow the protocols put in place by the school. He also stresses the importance of using the daily symptom tracker.

“Our protocols and support structures are strong, but only when followed,” Waugh began, “and the most important reminder for students is how important it is to use the daily symptom tracker, HealthCheck360. Our COVID support team monitors this daily, and we can best provide support
when students leverage this powerful tool.”

In addition to these protocols, the school has worked with the state to provide a free COVID testing site that is available for students and staff. This testing site located on the edge of campus has been a major help in tracking the spread of the virus. Sister Joan, President of St. Ambrose University, shared how useful this site has been.

“We believe our partnership with the Test Iowa College program has been an important step in our mission to control and mitigate the COVID-19 threat, and we will continue to rely on Test Iowa throughout the winter and spring,” Sister Joan stated.

One of the greatest tools that the school has used is an openness to adjustment. This virus is still new and all around the world people are still trying to live safely. St. Ambrose University has continuously been working to create the best approach to handling the virus on campus.

“Adjustments to practices and protocols that can make the campus safer have been implemented through the course of fall semester, and this level of review and adjustment will continue for as long as the virus remains a threat,” Sister Joan stated.

Waugh also mentioned that the Implementation Team sent out a survey out to students, staff and teachers asking for feedback and possible improvements for the spring semester. This survey will be reviewed and answers will be carefully considered by the team. In just a few weeks, students will be leaving campus and heading home for a nine-week long
winter break. Sr. Joan shared what can be known about how things might be after students come back from break,

“St. Ambrose students have been extremely responsive and responsible, and their commitment to being part of the solution makes us both proud and grateful. However, that vigilance remains very important as we near the conclusion of fall semester amid spikes in regional cases and deaths,” Sister Joan stated. “We’ll have to ask much the same this spring: Mask up, maintain physical distance, practice careful hygiene to minimize virus spread, and, now especially, avoid socializing in crowded nightspots and parties.”