Students and instructors are now determining how to move forward with previously in-person laboratory classes after UNC announced Monday that all undergraduate courses will shift to remote learning starting Wednesday.
Michel Gagne, a chemistry professor, said he was disappointed after hearing the University’s announcement.
“You know, we put in an awful lot of effort trying to find a way to do this and now we have to do a pivot and change,” he said. “Even though I’m getting tired of that word, 'pivot.'”
His synthetic chemistry lab had already been rearranged, he said.
“We front-loaded a lot of the laboratories at the beginning and planned to draw down activities in-person as the semester goes on,” he said.
The plan was to get students in the lab as quickly as possible and transition to a non-in-person scenario later if necessary, but he said it would be a challenge if they couldn’t get into the lab at all. Hands-on skill development will be difficult, he said, as showing someone a video of how to do something is not the same as doing it.
“My preference, of course, would be to have them in the lab doing it themselves, but that’s not an option right now,” he said. “It’s not optimum, but it’s the way we’re going to have to do it.”
First-year Emily Garcia-Perez said her microbiology lab was following University guidelines when meeting in-person during the first week of classes — with plenty of personal protective equipment provided and with students spaced out in the room.
She said she was thankful the lab was being held in-person because it was easier to receive help and guidance from instructors.