When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools like St. Ambrose University in March of 2020, everyone was unsure what was next. Would there be a return to normal in a week, year, or more? How long will schools be shut down? What are the steps that individuals and society need to take to move forward?
The answer that many have been eagerly awaiting is a vaccine. As vaccine rollout continues across the country, there is still a great debate whether to get the vaccine or not.
For college students in Iowa, many are not yet eligible within the current vaccine roll-out phase. However, plenty of other students have already begun or completed their vaccine.
Currently in the Scott County area, where St. Ambrose is located, students involved in health care fields and other front line jobs have been able to get the vaccine. In addition, students who qualify as high risk are now able to be vaccinated.
St. Ambrose University is recommending that anyone able get the vaccine. On March 9, 2021, SAU President, Sister Joan Lescinski and the SAU Cabinet wrote to faculty, staff, and students in an email that said the following,
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidelines addressing persons who have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series show the promising progress being made in battling the pandemic. However, there are no protocol changes at St. Ambrose University at this time.
As a reminder, it is imperative to our successful spring semester that we all continue to adhere to the Bee Safe, Bee Responsible Promise, practice all health and safety precautions, and limit potential exposures to reduce the spread of the virus. Additionally, we do encourage you to receive the vaccine when it is available to you based on consultation with your healthcare provider. If you receive the vaccine, you may submit verification of completion of the required series to Student Health Services (if a student) or Human Resources (if an employee). This will assist us should protocols be able to be changed in the future.
Thank you again for all of your efforts in fighting the spread of COVID-19.
Messaging at the university has been prominent to remind the SAU community that despite the state of Iowa being open, the university is still following the existing protocols.
The university’s goals for remaining diligent are to return in August with “a responsible normalcy” for the 2021-2022 academic year according to an email from Lescinski. On March 15, 2021, Lescinski wrote to students about the fall 2021 school year. The email said the following,
We have all learned many lessons as we lived through a year of historic, pandemic-related challenges. One thing we know is the strong desire you have to experience an SAU education in full. We understand your wish to interact face-to-face with faculty members and classmates; to partake fully in extracurricular activities; and to be immersed fully in all that St. Ambrose has to offer.
With that in mind, I am pleased to tell you we are looking forward to a return in August to what we will call “a responsible normalcy” for the 2021-2022 academic year. This means a schedule based on in-person classes and hands-on learning and a full schedule of campus curricular and extracurricular events.
We are basing these plans on the growing availability of vaccines and positive public-health trends, but, as we have done throughout the past year we will have clear contingency plans in mind should circumstances warrant.
We very much look forward to welcoming a full campus on Monday, August 23 to celebrate the arrival of our new president, Dr. Amy Novak. On behalf of our faculty and staff, we promise to do all we can throughout your time at St. Ambrose to keep our campus safe while providing a wonderful St. Ambrose experience.
With Seniors eager to walk at a graduation ceremony in May, student athletes continuing their athletic seasons, and clubs and organizations hosting approved events, activities, and fundraisers, the goal of “a responsible normalcy” depends on students being safe and responsible and continuing to follow the Bee Promise. In addition, as vaccines continue to become available, individuals can utilize those resources to lessen the spread and continue positive health trends.
If you are eligible and interested in being vaccinated, contact your healthcare provider, local health department or pharmacy to find out how, when and where to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in your community. Vaccines are available by appointment only through the Rock Island and Scott County Health Departments, Hy-Vee and Walgreens pharmacies.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control provide valuable information on how to avoid scams on their website. The statement suggests that anyone who calls, texts or emails you asking you to pay to put your name on a list or to get early access to the COVID-19 vaccine or asks you to provide your Social Security, bank account or credit card number is not legit. Visit the FTC website for additional information on avoiding scams.
An email from SAU Nurse Nancy Hines stated that if you complete your vaccination series, please continue to follow public health guidelines.
These guidelines include wearing a mask over the mouth and nose, social distancing at least six feet from others, washing your hands often, disinfecting your residence and other commonly touched areas regularly, avoiding large gatherings and poorly ventilated areas, and staying home when ill.
Students and employees of the University are also required to complete a daily symptom tracker every morning. This tracker is a quick questionnaire that asks participants to check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to common signs of the novel coronavirus. This tracker is used to more effectively alert individuals if they need to get a COVID-19 test and stay home.
If you have general questions about the vaccine, call 211. Resource specialists are available 24 hours a day to answer questions. Check with your health care provider with questions specific to your health situation.
If you are unsure about getting the vaccine or have other questions, the following links are resources to provide information on the authorized vaccines in the USA, how they work, the difference between them and lots of other valuable information.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH)
If you are an SAU student, and you have received the vaccine, Hines is requesting a photo or scan of the vaccination card to be emailed to her. Hines is adding all vaccination information into student files, which will also help the university track the population of students vaccinated.