The Chemistry Department is committed to restoring in-person instruction at Colby in the fall semester of 2020. Optimal teaching and learning in our discipline results from faculty and staff members working directly with students towards an understanding of chemical principles, chemical approaches to problem solving, and laboratory techniques. We will work closely with the Colby Registrar to ensure that classrooms have sufficient capacity to safely accommodate our students, and we will operate within established best practices for health and safety for all co-curricular activities. While we will incorporate technology where appropriate to minimize health risks, the Department will not offer fully-remote courses or laboratories. We understand that this may preclude participation by some students who have elected to remain enrolled at the College as remote learners due to underlying health concerns or international travel restrictions. However, we believe the nature of chemistry as an experimental science requires hands-on instruction; we look forward to welcoming these students back to our classrooms and laboratories in a subsequent semester. Despite this limitation, the Department is committed to accommodating student absences as part of the College’s surveillance testing and risk-management procedures.

 

Laboratory work is essential to the study of chemistry and typically involves highly-interactive engagement with fellow students and instructors. In addition to requiring that all students and instructors wear face masks while in our laboratories, all students and instructors will be issued face shields to minimize risks from both respiratory droplets and chemical hazards. We are also redesigning our laboratory curricula to minimize close proximity. For most of our laboratory courses this fall (CH141, CH147, CH241, & BC367), we will be dividing the students in each laboratory section in half. Each half of students will attend in-person laboratory sessions every other week, thus halving the density of people in these spaces. Experimental procedures will no longer be carried out in partnerships or teams. As such, the experiments themselves will be redesigned to maximize individual learning while minimizing peer-to-peer interaction. During “off weeks” from the laboratory, our students will complete tasks such as experimental planning, data analysis, or other skill-building activities that can be executed outside of the laboratory.

 

Should any new or returning students have questions about the Chemistry Department’s courses or laboratories for the 2020-21 academic year, please contact Department Chair Kevin Rice (kevin.rice@colby.edu).