Co-Deans’ Message to Law Students:
Our Plans for Fall Semester (July 9, 2020)
Dear Law Students,
We know that you are eager to learn more about the way the Law School will operate in the fall. We are writing to supplement the information in the email from President Snyder and Provost Vinson with information specific to the Law School. While we do not have all the details yet, we wanted to get you as much information as we can now, understanding that we will continue to supplement this information over the next few weeks and months. We have created this special page of the website for updates and will post answers to our frequently asked questions (FAQs) document as well. Entering 1Ls will be receiving more specific information about their courses and orientation next week.
The Law School is committed to offering learning options during the fall semester that are as pedagogically effective and safe as practicable under the challenging circumstances posed by the Coronavirus. We know that many of you prefer an in-person experience, even with the constraints described below. Others will prefer to participate remotely in the fall.
The faculty have been working hard the last few months to educate themselves on remote-course best practices and technologies in order to redesign their classes for the fall. These will not simply be in-person classes shifted to Zoom, as many of you experienced this past spring.
Courses will involve a range of modalities, allowing for students to learn in person and remotely (with a remote option available for the in-person parts). There will be three types of upper class course offerings: (1) remote-only courses, (2) dual-delivery courses that are taught in person to some students and to other students remotely either synchronously or asynchronously, and (3) hybrid courses that have remote and in-person components for all students (with a remote option available for the in-person parts). The different types of courses will be designated on the course list we will send you in the coming weeks. Provided there is space available, upper class students are free to change courses (or professors) in light of this information up until the end of the drop-add period (August 28). We want to stress that while we have identified our course plans at this time, the changing dynamics of the pandemic may necessitate variation of these at any time leading up to the start of, or during, the fall semester.
Please note also that students with F1 Visas need to take at least one in-person course during the fall semester to maintain their Visa status under the ICE Guidelines that were issued on July 6. We are engaged with other Universities in exploring ways to best support and protect our international students. Additional information for international students can be found here, and specific questions should be addressed to email@example.com.
Requirements for In-Person Classes
For in-person courses, the classrooms must comply with six-foot physical distance spacing, which will significantly limit the number of seats in large classrooms (for example, a classroom that previously fit almost 100 students will now fit 22). In some cases, the space constraints mean that classes cannot be offered in the small classrooms.
Students should plan to enter classrooms 5-10 minutes before class begins to ensure spacing during ingress. Please note that movement around the classroom must be limited and students should remain in their seats during class so as not to come into close contact with other students. They should exit the classroom immediately following class in order to allow the space to open up for the next class but should pace themselves to avoid bunching up during egress. Students should not congregate in the hallways or elsewhere in the building between classes.
Disinfectant supplies will be available in the classrooms to allow students and professors to clean the desk space and chair they are using.
Everyone (including the professor) will be required to wear a mask at all times in the building, including during all classes.
Health Protocols for Students coming to the Law School
Prior to attending your first class at the Law School, students must participate in a University-mandated online orientation session involving infection prevention and control. Additional information on this will be provided.
Students will be expected to monitor for COVID-19-related symptoms for 14 days prior to arrival on campus. Students with symptoms should notify University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS) and delay coming to campus until UHCS provides written permission.
Per Centers for Disease Control guidance, students coming to campus from outside the country will be required to quarantine for 14 days before coming to campus.
Upon initial arrival at the Law School, all students will receive a drawstring bag containing the following items: two cloth masks, one thermometer, travel-size disinfecting wipes, alcohol swabs, tissues, two individually wrapped disposable masks to be worn in the event of illness and travel-size hand sanitizer on a silicone strap that can be attached to a bag or backpack.
COVID-19 Testing: The University plans to test all students, including graduate and professional students within the first few weeks of the semester. A percent of the campus population will then be tested periodically throughout the semester. When a student tests positive for COVID-19, UHCS will follow its protocol for notification, isolation and contact tracing.
We will continue our commitment to experiential education during the fall semester. Practicing attorneys (including our clinical faculty) have had to adjust during the pandemic and our students will likewise need to adjust how they interact and communicate with clients and judges, and how they engage in experiential learning. We will run all of our normal experiential classes, but many of those will move to a hybrid structure (as they did this past spring). Like other service industries, we need to adapt to the health constraints in providing legal training and assistance.
The Law Library will be limited to a maximum number of people. We are currently evaluating the space to determine the occupancy limits. In addition, study room occupancy will be constrained, with rooms fitting only 1-2 students at a time, if they can be used at all.
Academic and Student Departments
All services will continue to be available to students, including Academic Support, Career Development, Academic Affairs/Registrar, Students Services, and Financial Aid. In addition, we will continue to operate the Alumni Relations and Admissions offices. Details on their in-person and remote availability will be posted on the FAQs, which will be posted later this summer. For immediate questions, please contact the office in question. While their time in the building is currently limited, staff are all still working.
Custodial staff will follow enhanced cleaning protocols for common areas, including more frequent cleaning in general, with particular attention to “high-touch” surfaces such as door knobs and handles, railings, bathroom fixtures, etc. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the building and we encourage you to wash your hands frequently.
Extracurricular Activities and Student Organizations
There will be limits to the number of students permitted in Journal and student organization offices at a time. In some cases, that may be limited to 1-2 people at a time. Some offices may not be open for use if physical distancing requirements cannot be met. We are currently working with University Emergency Management and Facilities to identify the limits on the space and will post those limits outside each room.
Based on local and state health recommendations limiting gatherings, meetings of more than 2-3 people should not be conducted in the building. In-person meetings must maintain physical distancing and all participants must wear masks. As long as they are consistent with health recommendations, small groups may also choose to meet outside (still observing physical distancing and mask requirements). In all other cases, students should schedule remote meetings.
We plan to work with SBA and other student leaders regarding plans for student organization spaces and activities for the academic year, once we get the details on space configuration from University Facilities.
The University is evaluating restrooms throughout campus, including the Law School. Modifications may be made to the physical space, and there will be signage indicating the number of people permitted in the restrooms at the same time.
Blackacre and Resjudicafe
Bon Appetit will decide whether the Cafe will be open in the fall. All food service on campus will only offer grab-and-go options during the fall semester. There will be spacing indicators for check-out. Seating at Blackacre will be significantly limited based on physical distancing guidelines. Whether food can be consumed in the building (and where) is still to be determined.
Guests will not be allowed into the building during the fall semester. The main doors will remain key-card access only. All visitors must have a valid business purpose to be in the building, register with a department ahead of time and undertake appropriate health protocols. Details on the process will be forthcoming.
. . .
We understand this may not be the experience you imagined for this coming semester. Like you, we miss the close and frequent interactions that normally occur in the building. At the same time, we are committed to keeping our community as safe as possible during the pandemic.
Think of the staff, faculty and fellow students as you would your parents, grandparents, siblings and other close relations -- please make choices that will keep them all as safe as you would want others to keep safe those you care about. We will eventually get back to a more normal experience. In the meantime, we greatly appreciate your patience as we work through all of the issues. Additional communication(s) will be forthcoming throughout the next few weeks. Please join us on Thursday July 16th at noon for a Deans’ Open Forum where we will be available for questions on these guidelines and any other matters. The Zoom link and password can be found in the most recent Law School News email.
Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf