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UMass Law Fall 2020 Frequently Asked Questions

This page is current as of August 10, 2020. We will update this page as more information becomes available.

Will UMass Law's classes take place in person or online in Fall 2020?

In light of the ever-evolving public health crisis, our instructional plan for the fall semester has changed. In line with the University's plan, “[a]ll lecture-style instruction will move to a fully remote modality.” What this means for the law school is that all of our courses during the fall semester will be conducted via remote modality.

Fortunately, the faculty has been preparing for this possibility. A majority of our courses were already planned for fully online learning, extensive instructional resources have been made available, and faculty have been working both individually and in groups to refine instruction for remote modality.

What are UMass Law’s plans for the Spring 2021 semester?

We cannot predict what the public health guidance will be in Spring 2021. Dramatic changes such as a widely-disseminated vaccine or an effective treatment could support a return to in-person instruction. On the other hand, if the public health situation were the same, fully or partially online learning could be necessary. As always, we will be guided by what the law requires and by the prevailing public health guidance.

 

Does the university offer any resources to promote my mental health during these stressful times?

The University’s counseling services are available to all UMass Dartmouth students, including law students. We encourage students to make full use of the Counseling Center’s resources. For information, please visit https://www.umassd.edu/counseling/.

 

 

Will the Fall 2020 academic calendar remain the same?

Yes, we have not changed our academic calendar for this semester. 

Is the class schedule that was posted back in March still in effect? 

In our attempt to offer a partially in-person learning experience that complied with public health and safety requirements, we modified our class schedule at the end of July. The revised schedule was distributed and posted on July 29, 2020. In almost all cases, that schedule remains in place despite our shift to online instruction. If there are any changes to your schedule, you will receive a message from the Law Enrollment Center shortly. In addition, regardless of whether their schedule has changed, returning students may email add/drop requests to lec@umassd.edu throughout the month of August, through the end of the standard add/drop period at the start of the semester.

What if I am in a different time zone? Do I still have to follow the UMass Law schedule for in-person and synchronous classes? 

Yes. However, if you will be participating from a time zone that makes your current class schedule impractical, we will work with you to modify your course enrollments to minimize the time difference to the extent possible.

Will I be able to access materials in the Law Library?

Yes, the Law Library is developing a phased plan for restoring in-person services and on-site access to collections. Until that time we can provide you with documents by email or arrange for curbside pickup of books from the library's circulating collection. We are working on using TWEN for course reserves. All of our virtual library activity must, of course, conform to copyright restrictions. If you have questions or requests please contact us at: by phone 508-985-1121, email lawlib@umassd.edu, or text at 508-507-2555.

Will I be able to study and participate in online classes in the Law Library? 

The Law Library is developing a plan to restore in-person access to common areas and study spaces. Seating and study spaces, however, will be significantly reduced to comply with health and safety guidelines. You must wear a face covering at all times and clean up before and after using any desk or library equipment. Please contact us with any questions or concerns at: by phone 508-985-1121, email lawlib@umassd.edu, or text at 508-507-2555.

Will I be able to study and participate in online classes anywhere else in the building?

We are working to provide limited space in a few unused classrooms for students to study and participate in online classes. We will provide more details as they become available, but please understand that these spaces will be limited and that we expect students to use these spaces only when they have no other alternative and to give priority to fellow students who need to use the space to attend online classes. There will also be self-monitored limits on the amount of time any student can spend in these spaces. If these spaces cannot be used collaboratively, or if health and safety measures are not followed in these spaces, we will discontinue them.

What will the attendance policy be for the Fall 2020 semester?

The attendance policy appears in Section 4 of the Student Handbook and remains in effect. Each professor has discretion to allow additional absences depending on the individual student’s circumstances, and faculty members have been encouraged to be flexible in connection with absences related to COVID-19. 

How will I pick up textbooks and course materials? 

Materials purchased through the campus bookstore website can be shipped to your home. Visit the bookstore website for shipping details. In addition, many course materials are available digitally or may be shipped directly from websites such as Amazon.com. Professors who distribute materials to in-person classes will make those materials available digitally to any students who are participating remotely.

What if I don’t have a reliable computer or internet access? 

The Federal Government has authorized CARES Act funds specifically to assist college and university students with COVID-19 related expenses, including assisting eligible students who must purchase remote-learning technology. Eligibility is limited, and the application process may not be finalized until later in the summer. 

How will midterm and final exams be proctored in Fall 2020? 

Timed exams, including both midterm and final exams, will be administered online using a remote proctoring service offered through ExamSoft software that we have used for many years to administer in-class exams on student laptops. The remote proctoring service works with your laptop webcam and microphone. We will distribute remote proctoring instructions and information early in the fall semester.

What will the grading policy be for Fall 2020? 

The faculty’s vote to impose a mandatory credit/no credit grading system applied only to Spring 2020. The standard grading policy resumed in Summer 2020 and remains in effect for Fall 2020.

How can I access the academic success resources, including Professor Vaughan-
Thomas, the academic fellows, and the materials in the Law Learning Center?

Individual and small group meetings with Professor Vaughan-Thomas or an Academic Fellow will be held by Zoom or by telephone. There will be limited access to the Law Learning Center by appointment to browse and check out print resources upon returning to campus this fall.

To schedule a one-on-one Zoom meeting with Professor Vaughan-Thomas

To schedule a one-on-on Zoom meeting with Professor Flanagan

To make an appointment to access the Law Learning Center's print resources, please visit Professor Vaughan-Thomas's scheduling page and select Law Learning Center Print Resources Appointment.

Will clinics and field placements still run in Fall 2020?

Yes. The seminar portions of those courses will be online, and depending on the clinic or placement, students may need to work remotely for some or all of their hours. For details, please reach out to the professor teaching your clinic or to Professor Drew, Director of Experiential Learning (margaret.drew@umassd.edu).

If I am studying online this semester, can I do a Field Placement near where I am
living?

Yes, under certain conditions. For details, please reach out to the professor teaching your clinic or to Professor Drew, Director of Experiential Learning (margaret.drew@umassd.edu).

What is UMass Law doing to foster student life in Fall 2020?

While the fall semester at UMass Law will not look like semesters in the past or semesters that we will be able to have in the future after the pandemic has passed, we will continue to focus on student engagement in our co-curricular offerings to foster a sense of community and support for all. Technology will allow the Student Bar Association and student organizations to connect with each other and with the student body. The SBA has been working over the summer to plan a meaningful student life experience for the upcoming year. Details will be provided in August.

 

My circumstances have changed since I filed my FAFSA. Can I receive more aid?

Please reach out to Sandra Leger Silva (508.985.1112 or sandra.leger.silva@umassd.edu) if you are experiencing a financial hardship. We’ll do our best to connect you with all available resources.

Are there any other sources of funding for students impacted by the pandemic?

The Federal Government has authorized CARES Act funds specifically to assist college and university students with COVID-19 related expenses. Eligibility is limited, and the application process may not be finalized until later this summer.

Will UMass law be reducing its tuition for Fall 2020?

Tuition and fees are set by the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees voted this summer to freeze 2020-2021 tuition at the same level as 2019-2020.

Doesn’t blended or online education cost less than in-person education?

Continuing our educational programs amid the COVID-19 public health emergency is more expensive, not less. This is the case whether the mode of instruction is fully in person, blended, or fully online. Health and safety measures require additional labor, equipment, and supplies. Additional technology expenditures are necessary to facilitate blended learning and to allow students to participate remotely in in-person classes when necessary. And the University continues to pay the faculty and staff providing the instruction and student services.

If I don’t move to the Dartmouth area for the Fall, will I be able to live on campus if UMass Law classes are offered in person in Spring 2021?

It is far too early to say whether public health and safety concerns will allow us to be fully or partially in-person in Spring 2021. If a return to campus is possible, we will make every effort to offer on campus housing to students who wish to live on campus. However, we cannot predict at this point what will be possible.

I am already in or have plans to travel to the United States to study at UMass Law.
How will taking online courses affect my visa?

UMass Law is committed to working one-on-one with every international student to modify their schedule to maximize their visa eligibility. International students should direct all questions to UMass Dartmouth’s International Programs Office (intl_programs@umassd.edu or 508.910.6506).

Additional Info

Further comprehensive information about the University's COVID-19 response is available on UMass Dartmouth's Returning to Campus page.