For college students today, navigating classes and schedules amid COVID-19 restrictions brings challenges unlike anything they have faced before.
At St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC) in Sparkill, educating during the pandemic means taking action to ensure its students feel safe and secure while they pursue a meaningful education that will prepare them for the realities of a post-COVID world. Led by President Ken Daly, STAC fosters a rich and ever-developing atmosphere in which its nearly 2,000 students can thrive.
“Our campus has been open since Day 1,” Daly explains. “We’ve done it in a hybrid fashion that’s half in-person and half online.”
At St. Thomas Aquinas College, which has been one of the nation’s top regional Catholic colleges since 1952, health issues are very minimal on campus, with a COVID-19 infection rate averaging approximately one percent. Because of this, students can feel secure as they study across more than 100 majors, minors, and specializations in the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, and the School of Education.
“We’re really proud of our students,” Daly enthuses. “They’ve been caring and they’ve been ultra-compliant.”
To keep students safe during the pandemic, STAC launched a COVID taskforce comprised of administrators, professors, faculty, and students to work together to safeguard the campus. It prioritizes online learning during times when the potential for outbreaks is highest, such as during winter months, with a shift toward hybrid and in-person learning starting in the spring.
Looking ahead, STAC is keeping its commitment by investing in future pillars of success: people, technology, facilities, academic programs, and student engagement. The college actively works to hire faculty and counselors to support students during such a critical time. It also equipped all of its classrooms with AV technology and doubled WiFi capabilities on campus to make virtual learning easier than ever before.
“We’ve now had seven snow days and not missed a single minute of academic instruction,” Daly notes.
Additionally, if any of its students do not own a laptop or possess the technological devices they need, STAC is ready to step in to provide them with what they require to succeed.
Regarding its facilities, STAC plans to unveil a new admissions office, a career services center, and a refreshed student center in fall 2021. That debut goes hand in hand with the school’s increased emphasis on academic programs aimed at the future of the job market.
“We want to educate our students on the careers and programs of tomorrow,” Daly explains, adding that business, education, healthcare, and STEM programs are a significant focus on campus.
As for student engagement, St. Thomas Aquinas College has big plans when socially distant gatherings are safe once more. President Daly mentions movie nights on the front lawn, food trucks, homecomings, and team nights as just a few of the upcoming events.
“When you put it all together, we care about our students,” Daly says. “We want them to say, “those were the best four years of my life.’”
St. Thomas Aquinas College
125 Rte 340, Sparkill
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