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Fall Semester Classes Underway at Saint Leo University with Safety Protocols in Place

Students and teachers are back to focusing on fields from the natural sciences to teaching, technology, business, and more.

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31 August 2021 - By Jo-Ann Johnston
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Classes are now underway at Saint Leo University, with undergraduate classes having started Tuesday morning, August 31, at University Campus. Saint Leo students who study online or at education centers were also due to begin their class meetings this week, some as early as Monday.

The university is committed to following COVID-19 safety protocols to allow students to continue pursuing their educational goals. Accordingly, students and faculty members at University Campus turned out wearing masks for classes, laboratories, and advising sessions. There are limits on the size of some indoor gatherings, to allow appropriate distancing between individuals. But in other respects, the start of the Fall 2021 Semester began as all others have.

Here are glimpses from just a few courses that began Tuesday at University Campus.

  • A hardy group gathered at 8 a.m. in a science lab-classroom for an ecology laboratory course lead by Dr. Christopher Miller. In addition to a water sampling lab to be conducted in the coming week from kayaks on the lake next to campus, the students may get the opportunity to see how scientists can assess the age of trees without felling them. Miller plans for the dendrochronology lab to take place on some Pasco County land holdings where the age of the trees has not been determined.

  • Those considering a career in sport business had their choice of two time slots for the introductory class on the topic: mornings on Tuesday and Thursday, or early afternoon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. During Dr. Leon Mohan's Tuesday morning session, he explained that he would be using the "flipped-classroom" method, in which students are expected to watch a video of a lecture recorded by Mohan or one of his department colleagues during their time outside the classroom. That allows the faculty to devote the time during class sessions to hands-on activities. He told the new class that he has found students absorb more that way. 

  • A computer forensics class for senior-level undergraduates assembled in the cyber security lab. Students and their faculty member, Dr. Marwan Omar, discussed their common observation about just how much importance the technology job market places on the knowledge of computer forensics, or the skills used to find evidence on computers and digital storage devices. Employers are reluctant to hire candidates without it, they agreed. The technology and mathematics disciplines are now gathered in a new academic unit, the School of Computing, Artificial Intelligence Robotic and Data Sciences.
  • The first education class to hold session Tuesday was the sophomore-level class called Educating Diverse Populations. Dr. Rachel Hernandez used the first meeting to encourage the small group of future educators—plus one future community health educator—to get to know one other as they will likely be taking many courses together in the coming years. The course material will help the future teachers become aware of their own biases so that they will emerge from Saint Leo as educators equipped with the cultural competence to teach children from many different backgrounds. Saint Leo is known among Florida school administrators for the quality of the graduates from the teacher preparation program for K-12 public schools.

Thursday, students newly admitted or interested in enrolling in the College of Health Professions have the opportunity to meet with Dean Kathleen Van Eerden at a table near the University Campus clock tower. Students in the recently launched college's pre-nursing program and the health education and health promotion program will be taking core liberal arts and preparatory courses this semester, so Van Eerden decided to hold an event where she and students could meet face-to-face.

Also during the week at University Campus, the Saint Leo Music Program is hosting student auditions for various singing groups and an instrumental performance group.

Administrators are anticipating a University Campus population of about 2,500 students this year.