Open letter to our College of Science students and families:
Graduating with a science major from Benedictine University has always carried with it the assurance that students were provided opportunities for experiential learning that are not found at every institution of higher education. We take this very seriously and have always worked hard to provide hands-on training that cannot be duplicated online or in a textbook alone. Our graduates are known for their laboratory skills and first-hand appreciation of the realities of scientific exploration.
To maintain this quality of service, a number of our laboratory and other experiential opportunities have learning outcomes that require face-to-face instruction and experience that cannot be replicated online or at individual homes. These often include gaining real-world experience using state-of-art equipment, require special laboratory safety measures, or are defined by personal interactions, as with clinical practica. The University takes pride in its standing in our community as an institution dedicated to providing robust experiential learning opportunities in the sciences and related fields.
The College of Science at Benedictine University will continue to provide these opportunities while simultaneously instituting additional safety protocols and practices that allow us to continue to achieve the learning objectives of these courses. In addition to adhering to the highest laboratory safety protocols and conditions,
- All faculty, staff, and students must wear face masks provided by us to participate in a laboratory course,
- Combinations of 6-foot distancing, face shields, and lab benchtop personal barriers will be deployed, and
- All rooms are cleaned and disinfected regularly.
Faculty are also working diligently to limit the time and occasions requiring in-person instruction and experiences. In most cases, labs exercises are being revised when possible to achieve some learning outcomes online or through at-home exercises. The number and length of any in-person lab work is being reduced to those experiences that are required, resulting in fewer and shorter lab periods. In the event that a student becomes ill or needs to self-quarantine for a brief period, arrangements are being made to make-up work missed. We are doing everything possible to provide these opportunities to our students while doing everything we can to minimize risk.
We understand the concerns that the Covid-19 pandemic has raised, and that everyone must decide what is acceptable risk for them individually. If you are not comfortable participating in a face-to-face lab at this time, we want you to know that we are making plans to offer additional lab sections for those who need them once public health conditions change.
If you would like more detailed advice about how to manage the upcoming semester, please discuss alternatives with your advisor. If you were planning to graduate soon and cannot participate in a required face-to-face lab, contact the department chair of your degree program to consider alternatives.
William R. Law, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Science