Fall 2020 Planning


Academic Calendar

Classes will begin August 26 and conclude November 24 when students will depart campus to complete finals remotely. This academic calendar will allow for a full instructional semester.

Should conditions allow, Colby will proceed with Jan Plan and the spring semester as scheduled without significant changes to the academic calendar.

The College will not be hosting a Family Homecoming Weekend this year.

First Semester Fall 2020
Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 19-20
Residence halls open; CAs return to campus
Friday and Saturday, Aug. 21-22
First-year students arrive
Sunday and Monday, Aug. 23-24
Upper class students arrive
Wednesday, August 26
First classes
Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 12-13
No classes. Students must remain on campus. Additional information about activities will be forthcoming.
Tuesday, November 24
Last day of classes of first semester
Wednesday, November 25
Residence halls close
Monday, November 30-Tuesday, December 8
At-home reading period followed by semester examinations

Academic Program

Colby remains committed to delivering a rigorous academic program characterized by extraordinary teaching and scholarship, and we will offer a full complement of courses originally planned for this fall. The plan for the academic program was developed through discussions among numerous members of the Colby faculty, led by the Center for Teaching and Learning. The model for fall includes two main modes of teaching: (1) in-person/hybrid instruction and (2) fully remote instruction that will be available to students and faculty who require accommodations due to travel restrictions and/or health conditions.


As at other colleges and universities, some faculty will be unable to teach in person, either because of health concerns or because their courses cannot be safely or effectively taught within our public health protocols. These faculty will offer their courses remotely, and we anticipate about one-third of our curriculum will be in remote mode. Offering these courses remotely will also allow us to fully accommodate students who are unable to be on campus for health or other reasons. The remaining courses will be taught in person or in hybrid modes that combine remote and in-person instruction.

Students can see the teaching mode for each course by using the Curriculum Search function on the registrar’s page. Those to be taught remotely are noted as such; all others are listed as TBA as we complete the classroom assignment process.

Now that the curriculum has been established, our faculty are engaged in professional development workshops to ensure that they are well prepared to offer exceptional courses in all modes of instruction. The challenges of teaching in the context of COVID-19 have inspired our faculty to rethink and reimagine many of their pedagogical approaches, and they are spending significant time developing their courses this summer. As a result of this extensive planning, which is very different from the emergency transition to remote learning last March, we are confident that all our courses, in all modes of instruction, will provide the rigor, challenge, and close faculty-student interactions that students have come to expect from the superb and dedicated Colby faculty. Every member of the faculty wants to be back in the classroom with our students, and while this is not possible, every faculty member is committed to deep and meaningful interaction with their students and to offering the very best liberal arts education possible.

Remote Learning

Remote courses will be offered for students who are unable to return to campus or elect not to do so this fall. While these offerings will not be the full complement of the academic program, there will be multiple courses available with which students can engage. All remote courses have now been identified, and students can find them by using the Curriculum Search function on the registrar’s page

Students who elect to enroll through off-campus remote learning will not be expected to provide payment for room and board.

Leave of Absences

Students should speak with their class dean about this process. Faculty should speak with the provost. Staff members should consult with the Office of Human Resources. More information about how to apply and deadlines will be forthcoming in follow-up communications.

Campus Life

The College is committed to preserving the distinctive experiences provided through our residential education as much as possible given the current environment.

Mule Pledge

The success of this plan will depend on all students, faculty, and staff committing to a revised set of expectations. Every member of the community is responsible for adhering to a social compact, called the Mule Pledge, to be part of this community. This will include committing to personal safety measures (especially facial coverings), prohibitions in the travel and visitor policy, complying with testing, and committing to health self-checks. Failure to comply will result in disciplinary action, including suspension. 

The Office of the Dean of the College has working closely with faculty, students, and staff to develop a the Mule Pledge for all community members. 


In July the NESCAC Conference canceled conference play and championships for the fall season. Colby is exploring whether there are possibilities for a more limited, local competition schedule for some teams this fall, but that will ultimately be determined by safety considerations.

Colby remains fully committed to finding every possible way to provide exciting and enriching opportunities for student athletes to practice and compete with their teams this year. The key is to be as creative as possible within the safety and health guidelines and to be prepared for opportunities if the situation allows for changes.

The NCAA and NESCAC have announced recent changes and waivers that provide for a greater relaxation of rules upcoming year:

  • Oversight of out-of-season athletics activities in non-traditional seasons. Fall and spring teams will be allowed to conduct limited activity in the non-traditional season in accordance with NCAA rules. This will allow institutions to conduct up to 16 practices over a five-week period during the non-traditional segment for fall and spring sports. This will allow for oversight of athletic activity by coaches and athletic training staff, and it will increase compliance with federal, state, local, and institutional return-to-play safety guidelines.
  • Adjustment of winter sports practice start date from November 1 to October 15. Winter teams are permitted to begin practice October 15. Playing season flexibility resulting from this waiver assists in complying with state, local, and institutional return-to-play safety guidelines.
  • The D-III Administrative Committee approved blanket waivers for participation. Division III student athletes will not be charged with participation for the 2020-21 season if their team can complete only 50 percent or less of the sport’s maximum contests/dates of competition due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee also approved a blanket waiver permitting student athletes to receive a two-semester/three-quarter extension of eligibility. Both blanket waivers will apply to all sports during the 2020-21 academic year;
  • In the event a team is unable to compete this fall, institutions may change the designation of the playing season and allow those teams to compete in the spring;

The NCAA has also developed guidelines for institutions that represent a phased return to athletics.

Campus Facilities

The use of Colby’s facilities will be limited to current students, faculty, and staff and the use of ColbyCards will be required for building access. Colby will follow Maine CDC guidelines for the use of indoor and outdoor facilities, including capacity restrictions and requirements for social distancing and the use of face coverings.

  •   All academic and administrative buildings, laboratories, the mailroom, and the Colby Bookstore will be open to students, faculty, and staff.
  •   The Colby College Museum of Art, Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center, Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons (including Chace Forum), Cotter Union/Pulver Pavilion, Miller Library, Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center, and dining facilities will remain closed to the public.

Colby’s outdoor facilities, including athletic and recreational fields and Perkins Arboretum, are open to students, faculty, and staff for personal and informal use or exercise, subject to social distancing requirements and prohibitions on gatherings in consultation with Maine state regulations. Outdoor facilities will not be open to the general public and cannot be used by teams or for organized group activities unless part of athletic competition against a Colby team.


Following Maine CDC guidelines, dining halls will be reconfigured to allow for proper social distancing. Capacities and the flow of students, faculty, and staff through the dining halls have been adjusted according to these and other guidelines. 

Self-service buffets will no longer be available as all meals will either be served or individually packaged. In addition to these changes, the College is expanding Caporale Lounge and grab-and-go options to include breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Food accommodations will continue to be made for individuals with dietary restrictions.

Cocurricular Living and Learning

Participation and engagement in cocurricular activities is an integral part of the Colby experience that we aim to preserve as we plan for the return to campus. Working closely with students, faculty, and staff, updated guidelines are being created for how students can continue to engage in the many structured activities outside of the classroom, and a reimagined schedule of creative programming is in development. Social life guidelines will be tied to the health code systems, with increased outdoor activities and use of outdoor spaces an important factor in social life programming. Social interactions, group meetings, and club and organization gatherings will have certain modifications based on Maine CDC guidance, including group-size limitations, mandatory face coverings, social distancing, adjusted capacities in campus spaces, and other safety measures.

In addition, we are developing plans for the many clubs and organizations that students enjoy outside of the classroom. We will share those with students over the summer and upon their arrival.

Summer Earnings Contributions 

We recognize that for many students, summer employment has been disrupted by the pandemic. As part of our ongoing efforts to fully support our students, the College will waive the summer earnings expectation from financial aid packages for the 2020-21 academic year. Under normal circumstances, students receiving financial aid are required to contribute up to $2,000 from summer work experiences or other assets. This year we are replacing that amount with institutional grant aid so students will not have to provide the summer earnings payment to attend Colby

Student Support 

Counseling Services will continue to provide support services for students residing on campus this fall. Which in-house services will be available for students residing off campus will depend on the student’s location. In addition, we will offer virtual programming that includes groups and workshops designed to support students and foster connections. We encourage students to reach out to Counseling Services with any questions, to discuss their mental health needs, or for assistance with referrals. Counseling Services can be reached by email at counseling@colby.edu

The class deans in the Dean of Studies Office are available to offer guidance and to ensure students have access to the resources and opportunities that create the conditions for their success in the rich intellectual life of this campus. Please reach out to the appropriate class dean if there are concerns about COVID-19 and students’ return to campus. Class deans can be reached at 207-859-4560 or deanofstudies@colby.edu.

Social Life and Connections

Healthy and balanced social experiences are important to students’ overall wellness. Although social interactions will be different due to physical distancing, use of facial coverings, group-size limitations, and adjusted capacities in campus spaces, students will have opportunities to socialize with friends and continue to build connections with classmates.

Housing and Waitlist Assignments

We will be assigning Class of 2024 housing based on the answers given on the housing preference form, and we will conduct the summer room draw process for returning students on the housing waitlist in July. Students participating in the summer room draw process will select their own housing, including living with or near small groups of friends as is typical for all room draw processes. Students who secured housing in the spring through the on-campus housing room draw process and application-based processes (Alfond Senior Apartments, Alfond Commons, and Heights suites) will keep their secured spaces. To provide additional housing for students, we will open the College’s newly constructed Lockwood Hotel on Main Street as a student residence for this year only. Transportation will be provided as we currently do for the Alfond Main Street Commons.


Students who need to exercise extra health precautions according to CDC guidelines, including for issues that may not meet the definition of a disability, are encouraged to consult with their healthcare provider as soon as possible to make a personalized plan. 

Consistent with Colby’s policy, Colby students who have any of the medical conditions identified by the CDC and who require reasonable housing accommodations should immediately contact the Office of Student Access and Disability Services. Reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities will be given priority over requests for reasons other than a disability. Requests for accommodations after the summer housing process has closed may be difficult to meet prior to a student’s arrival on campus and will be prioritized based on the space available. 

Students may contact Student Access and Disability Services at kate.mclaughlin@colby.edu or 207-859-4567.

Colby Outdoor Orientation Trip (COOT)

The traditional Colby Outdoor Orientation Trip that normally occurs before the first day of classes has been postponed. Discussions are currently taking place about the possibility of holding shorter COOT trips during the dates of fall break.

Fall Break

There will not be a traditional fall break this year, but there will be no classes held Monday, October 12 and Tuesday, October 13. Students will not be allowed to travel home for break this year. Rather, the Dean of the College Division is developing substantial programming for all students to participate in meaningful activities and opportunities. 

Course Registration

Course selection for first-year students is currently underway. When that process is complete, upper class students will be able to see their fall schedules. We anticipate that schedules will be visible to students by August 3, and an add-drop period to enable changes will begin on August 17.

In addition, we will be reconfiguring our academic spaces, classrooms, labs, and performance spaces so they can accommodate the health guidelines we are implementing. Classrooms will include physical distancing spacing, personal protective equipment, including plexiglass where appropriate, enhanced cleaning protocols, and more. In addition, we are pursuing other strategies to help de-densify our buildings.

Extended Stay on Campus

The College will work with individual students who may have challenges traveling home due to travel restrictions or housing insecurity issues. Students should contact their class dean if they would like to discuss this option.

Orientation and Transition to Campus for New Students

We are currently working on the orientation program and schedule for the Class of 2024 and transfer students. The orientation program will provide an introduction to life at Colby and a rich set of learning opportunities to set a foundation for success. The program will be a combination of virtual programs prior to arrival and small group gatherings on campus focused on community building. Even though physical distancing will be a part of the campus life experience, social connectedness with students’ classmates, faculty, staff, and advisers will be part of our earliest and ongoing encounters for on-campus students. More detailed plans about these experiences will be shared in the coming weeks.

Arrival and Move-in

We will invite students to arrive on a staggered basis determined primarily by residence hall. Some student leaders will arrive early; the basic structure for arrival is below. When students receive their specific housing information, it will include a two hour time slot for their arrival. The majority of students will receive their housing assignments the week of July 20, and those who are on the waitlist will receive their housing information by the end of July. We understand that some students may have extenuating circumstances that could preclude them from arriving at their designated time, and we will adjust as needed.

August 21 and 22: First-Year and Transfer Student

August 23 and 24: Upper Class Students (Mayflower Hill and downtown)

For more information about arrival date and time please go to the housing webpage.

The number of visitors allowed to accompany returning students will be limited to two family members. All students and assisting visitors will be required to wear facial coverings while on campus, and additional safety protocols will be shared in subsequent communications.

All members of the Colby community will be tested prior to the opening of school and will participate in regular testing afterward. Most students will be tested through Let’s Get Checked which they will receive by mail to the home address listed on your student account. For more information about the process, please read the Official Notice. Mail-in tests will not be available to students who are outside the United States or under the age of 18. Those students will receive information about alternative pre-arrival testing separately.

Students traveling from abroad who are unable to be tested in advance of arrival will need to quarantine off campus in housing provided by Colby until the College receives their negative test results.


Please note that while we have every intention of keeping with this schedule, the public health situation is constantly evolving. If purchasing airline tickets, we recommend considering travel insurance or changeable tickets, if possible.

Beyond Mayflower Hill

The Waterville Community

As Colby begins the 2020-21 academic year, it is with full consideration of the well-being of the Waterville community. Colby’s partnership with Central Maine is of paramount importance, and the College is committed to ensuring the safety of those who live and work in the greater Waterville area.

While safety is Colby’s number one priority, reopening the campus will allow the College to continue to support local businesses. Colby understands its impact on the Central Maine economy and is committed to continuing to support it as well as move forward with the revitalization of downtown Waterville.

Civic Engagement

Students will not be able to engage with in-person volunteer opportunities this fall. The Office of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships is actively working with community organizations to develop virtual and remote civic engagement opportunities.

Study Away

The College has canceled the Global Entry Semester Programs in Dijon and Salamanca. All admitted students to these programs will be joining other members of the Class of 2024 on campus this fall. Additionally, many other Colby students who were planning to study away this fall will be joining fellow students on campus in August.

Members of the Off-Campus Study team have contacted students planning to study away this fall. Students who are still planning to participate in a study away program should remain in close contact with the Office of Off-Campus Study, which is monitoring and evaluating each program’s situation. Some programs have already been canceled by the provider or institution, while others appear to remain on schedule.

Students Residing Outside the U.S. 

Students who are not able to return to campus due to travel restrictions will be allowed to engage with a smaller segment of the academic curriculum through remote learning. More information will be forthcoming as updated travel restrictions and other relevant information becomes available.

Students FAQ