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UMass Law Fall 2020 Reopening Plans 

UMass Law Dean Eric Mitnick announces plan for Fall 2020 reopening

UMass Law Fall 2020 Frequently Asked Questions

This page is current as of August 4, 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?

UMass Law plans to offer a blend of in-person and online learning in Fall 2020. Our decision to include in-person learning in our instructional model reflects the strong desire that many students and faculty members have expressed for an in-person educational experience. On the other hand, our top priority has been and continues to be the health and safety of our entire community. Many aspects of the in-person experience this fall will be quite different from the in-person experience last fall or from the in-person experience that will be possible once the public health crisis has passed

Why isn’t UMass Law offering all classes in person?

Our first priority is the health and safety of all members of our community. In order to comply with the University reopening plan and public health guidelines, we must limit (1) the number of students who occupy a classroom, (2) the amount of time that students and faculty spend in classrooms, and (3) the extent to which different student cohorts are on campus at the same time. In order to accomplish those health and safety goals while still delivering a high-quality educational experience, we must offer many classes in either a blended or an online format.

Can I choose to attend all of my courses online if necessary?

Yes, we recognize that the COVID-19 public health crisis and the steps taken to respond to that crisis, not just at UMass Law but across society, may make inperson participation effectively impossible for some. Some students may face especially serious health risks, while others may discover they are unable to travel to Massachusetts from locations within or outside the U.S. UMass Law is committed to enabling our continuing and incoming students to continue or begin their legal education regardless of their circumstances or location.

Students who need to participate entirely remotely will need to complete a Fall 2020 Online Learning Request Form. No medical or other documentation is required. Continuing students must submit this form to LEC@umassd.edu by July 15. Incoming first-year and transfer students must submit the form by July 15 or within one week of your deposit deadline, whichever is later. Once you submit the certification, we will work to place you in entirely remote sections of your required courses wherever possible, and you will participate remotely in the in-person component of any in-person classes in which you are registered at the start of the fall semester.

If you have questions about completing the form or your options more generally, as an initial matter please contact Assistant Dean for Students Julie Cahill (jcahill2@umassd.edu or 508-985-1105), and Dean Cahill will assist or direct you to someone who can help.

Will UMass Law follow its blended learning plan for the entire Fall 2020 semester?

As always, we will comply with applicable state and federal law and monitor advice from public health authorities. We will shift to entirely remote instruction if that becomes necessary for the health and safety of our community. Given the potential for rapid changes in the public health situation, all members of the UMass Law community must understand that we may need to shift to fully remote instruction at any time, including prior to the start of the Fall 2020 semester. Although we hope that does not happen, the model we are adopting for Fall 2020 will make it significantly easier for our community to make such a shift.

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

We cannot predict what the public health guidance will be in Spring 2021. If the situation were the same as today, we would expect to continue the blended learning model. Dramatic changes such as a widely-disseminated vaccine or an effective treatment could support a return to in-person instruction. On the other hand, a worsening public health situation could require online learning. As always, we will be guided by what the law requires and by the prevailing public health guidance.

 

What steps is UMass Law taking to keep its community safe?

In conjunction with UMass Dartmouth’s Fall 2020 Re-Opening Plan, UMass Law will implement a number of health and safety measures, including the following:

  • Community Commitment. Every member of the UMass Law campus community will adopt the UMassD Shared Responsibility Compact, which will confirm each member’s commitment to all UMass Dartmouth required safety practices.
  • Daily Symptom Screening. Everyone will engage in daily symptom checking using the COVID-19 Student Daily Self Checklist or employees (COVID-19 Employee Daily Self Checklist.
  • Stay Home When Sick. Students and employees who have ANY of the symptoms on the COVID-19 Daily Self Checklist must stay home. Students must contact Student Health Services (508.999.8982 or via the Secure Patient Portal or their primary care physician. Employees must contact their supervisor and Human Resources (508-999-8060 or humanresources@umassd.edu).
  • Wear Your Mask. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are mandatory everywhere on the law school campus, both indoors and outdoors. The only exceptions are for employees alone in their private offices.
  • Physical Distancing. We have significantly reduced the number of available seats in each classroom to ensure physical distancing. Students attending in-person classes will be assigned seat numbers. Seating will be  reduced throughout the law school building, including in the Law Library. Indoor common area use will be limited or eliminated.
  • Separate Cohorts. We are modifying our class schedule to bring different student cohorts to campus on different days.
  • Reduced In-Class Time. Fewer courses will be offered entirely in-person. Instead, many classes will be blended, with both in-person and online components, and some classes will be entirely online.
  • Hand Sanitizing and Cleaning. The university is planning for hand sanitizer to be available and to implement more frequent cleaning of both classrooms and common spaces.

Will I have to wear a face covering on campus?

Yes. All students, staff, and faculty must follow safety protocols at all times. While UMass Dartmouth is taking all necessary measures and precautions to protect the campus community, we will rely on every student, faculty member, and staff member to support and foster, through peer influence, our safe campus environment. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are mandatory everywhere in the law school building and grounds. The only exceptions are for employees alone in their private offices.

Will I need to be tested before coming to the law school?

UMass Dartmouth will engage in a campus-wide surveillance testing program. The details will be available here.

What’s the difference between quarantine and isolation?

During confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, quarantine and isolation can help reduce the spread within the community. It is important to know the difference between the two tactics. According to the CDC, quarantine is the act of separating and/or restricting the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick (lasts 14 days). Isolation is the separating of sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick (lasts until you have 3 days with no fever and respiratory symptoms have improved and 10 days since symptoms first appeared). Quarantine and isolation will continue until advised by a health care provider or the local board of health. earning plan for the entire Fall 2020 semester?

As always, we will comply with applicable state and federal law and monitor advice from public health authorities. We will shift to entirely remote instruction if that becomes necessary for the health and safety of our community. Given the potential for rapid changes in the public health situation, all members of the UMass Law community must understand that we may need to shift to fully remote instruction at any time, including prior to the start of the Fall 2020 semester. Although we hope that does not happen, the model we are adopting for Fall 2020 will make it significantly easier for our community to make such a shift.

What are the quarantine and isolation procedures for students, staff, and faculty who have suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 or had known recent known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV2?

Quarantine and isolation protocols will apply to all students (whether living on-campus or off-campus), staff, and faculty. You may find information about those protocols On UMass Dartmouth's coronavirus information page.

Will the University provide face coverings for students, staff, and faculty?

Face coverings are already required under Massachusetts law in many situations, so we expect everyone to have their own face coverings. We don’t yet know whether the University will make face coverings available in the event that someone comes to campus without one or that someone’s face covering becomes damages, so we urge you to be prepared by packing spare face coverings every day.

How will classrooms be cleaned?

The University plan currently calls for cleaning supplies to be made available for students and faculty to clean their areas before they begin class and after they leave. In addition, we plan to implement enhanced cleaning of the classrooms this semester. 

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.

Will the Fall 2020 academic calendar remain the same?

Yes. However, in accordance with the Fall 2020 Re-Opening Plan, all academic sessions after the Thanksgiving Recess will take place online, and final exams will be proctored remotely.

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

As a result of the measures described above, our class schedule for many courses will change. Some courses will shift to a blended instructional model, with one class on campus and one online. Some courses will shift to entirely online learning. The revised schedule was distributed and posted on July 29, 2020. No cohort of students has in-person classes on more than two days per week. Depending on the electives they have chosen, some upper-level students could have entirely online classes.

Returning students may email add/drop requests to lec@umassd.edu throughout the month of August, in addition to the usual add/drop period at the start of the semester. Incoming first-year students will be registered for the traditional first-year curriculum. We will also work with incoming and continuing students on an individualized basis to ensure the most appropriate course schedule for each person’s circumstances. 

If the revised schedule creates a class conflict, do I have to wait until the add/drop period to request a change? 

Returning students will have the opportunity to submit add/drop forms to lec@umassd.edu throughout the month of August, in addition to the usual 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 remotely 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 has UMass Law done to ensure that the blended learning model will provide a high-quality educational experience? 

We recognize the challenging nature of the abrupt and involuntary transition to online learning in Spring 2020. Whatever the fall may bring, UMass Law faculty and staff have spent significant time this summer leading and participating in training sessions to ensure that any online learning that takes place in the fall, whether as part of a blended course or a fully online course, meets our high standards. 

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. If an in-person student must quarantine or isolate but is still able to take classes, that student may shift to remote participation in the course. In the case of a serious illness that requires a student to incur excessive absences, please reach out to your professors and to Dean Cahill. Each professor has discretion to allow additional absences depending on the individual student’s circumstances.  

If I am studying remotely this semester, 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.

Will classes be recorded? 

Recording practices vary by professor. Students should consult with their professors if a hardship will prevent them from participating for a significant period. 

What if I am a fully online student but 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. 

Will I be able to see faculty or staff in person for office hours or academic advising?

We will not be permitting any in-person meetings in faculty or staff areas. All office hours and meetings will be conducted remotely. However, faculty and staff members who wish to find an outdoor space to meet with students are welcome to do so, so long as they comply with physical distancing and face covering requirements.

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 that 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).

Will student groups be able to meet on campus?

Student groups will be meeting primarily online for the fall semester. In limited instances, small group meetings may take place with social distancing in place and with all participants wearing masks. While the weather permits, small group meetings will take place in the outside courtyard near the cafe where additional
seating will be provided.

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.

Will the Law School Café be open in Fall 2020?

Unfortunately, we cannot operate the Café in compliance with public health and safety guidelines. Please understand as well that food consumption is not allowed anywhere inside the building. We hope to be able to permit use of the outdoor patio adjacent to the Café, provided that users maintain strict physical distancing.

Will UMass Law follow its blended learning plan for the entire Fall 2020 semester?

As always, we will comply with applicable state and federal law and monitor advice from public health authorities. We will shift to entirely remote instruction if that becomes necessary for the health and safety of our community. Given the potential for rapid changes in the public health situation, all members of the UMass Law community must understand that we may need to shift to fully remote instruction at any time, including prior to the start of the Fall 2020 semester. Although we hope that does not happen, the model we are adopting for Fall 2020 will make it significantly easier for our community to make such a shift.

Will I have access to a locker this year?

We are working on a plan to allow access to a limited number of lockers to ensure physical distancing. We will announce details as they become available.

 

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 that 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.

I haven’t decided yet whether to secure housing for the upcoming year. Should I
plan to move to the Dartmouth area?

Students who intend to take courses with some in-person component may decide to move to the Dartmouth area. We remind all students, however, that we continue to monitor public health guidance and may have to shift to online learning at any point in the semester.

I would like to try to secure a housing assignment in the UMass Dartmouth dorms.
Is on-campus housing still available?

The housing application deadline was July 31, 2020. If you did not apply for housing by that date, on-campus housing may not be an option. For updated information, see the Fall 2020 FAQ section, or contact Assistant Dean for Students Julie Cahill (jcahill2@umassd.edu or 508-985-1105), and Dean Cahill will assist or direct you
to someone who can help.

Will the bus from the main campus to UMass Law still run this year?

Yes, the main campus shuttle will begin regular operations on August 20. Main campus pickup times will be 7:45am, 12:30pm, and 6:00pm Monday through Thursday, and 7:45am, 12:30pm, and 5:00pm on Friday. For incoming 1L students living on-campus, there will be a special shuttle schedule during orientation.

If I don’t move to the Dartmouth area for the Fall, what will my options be if UMass law is fully in person in Spring 2021?

It is far too early to say whether we could be fully in-person in 2021. If conditions are similar to current conditions, we plan to continue a blended instructional model with the option to participate fully online in Spring 2021.

Is remote learning an option for international students?

Yes, any international student may choose to study remotely rather than travel to the United States.

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.

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