Without hesitation, classroom teachers Susie Ridgway and Randy Conrad say their Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School students are becoming the unofficial pandemic experts of Clark County.
“They sound like epidemiologists,” Ridgway said.
More than 40 epidemiology and history students worked together in small groups over a month, comparing and contrasting various elements of the past century’s largest pandemic, the 1918 Spanish flu, and the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Students examined access to health care, prevention and treatment, public response and policy matters. Once completed, students produced virtual presentations featuring T-charts and Venn diagrams for how each era dealt with the pandemics, and they identified historical patterns and advances society made in response to them.
Collaboration between Ridgway and Conrad isn’t new. Ridgway is the head of the school’s public health pathway and has taught epidemiology since the school introduced the course in 2014. Conrad teaches U.S. history, along with psychology and English.
This is the third year they’ve teamed up for a student project. As a history teacher, Conrad stresses that history doesn’t repeat itself — but patterns do. Ridgway said patterns are also significant in epidemiology, which is why the teachers’ goal was for students to learn and understand historical outbreaks, see patterns and subsequence responses.