March 18, 2020
Dear Students and Faculty:
I am writing to provide you with information on our plans to schedule the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. As part of the shift to remote instruction, we must make up the five class days lost during this week’s hiatus (March 16-20), while honoring the University’s commitment to preserve Spring Break and to keep all students on track to graduate on time.
We have revised the Spring 2020 course and exam schedule for the Law School as set forth below. Our approach is to clear three Fridays and one Saturday for use as additional make-up days as early as we can over the next few weeks. This will preserve study days and the original exam schedule for all upper-class courses (see attached). We have also proposed to reschedule one 1L exam in order to carve out additional time for 1L students to study after they complete the appellate brief and deliver oral arguments.
In addition to these changes, we will need to reschedule several previously canceled classes and many forthcoming adjunct classes (as discussed below). Our goal is to post and maintain on the Intranet a comprehensive calendar of scheduled course meetings for the remainder of the semester (including canceled and rescheduled classes). This document will also include the Zoom meeting IDs and hyperlinks to each course videoconference. We hope that this document will make it easy for students and professors to filter and review their daily course schedules and to access their course meetings with the appropriate URL. We expect to post this document by the end of the day tomorrow (Wednesday, March 18).
I appreciate that the revised Spring 2020 schedule will not work for every faculty member or every student. It is important that we all make a concerted effort to attend, prepare for and participate in our scheduled classes through live video to preserve the classroom experience, as countless law students and professors are doing throughout the country and around the world. We nevertheless are acutely aware that some students will have obligations or limitations that reasonably conflict with or frustrate attendance at their classes. As previously discussed in the online FAQ, we have decided to configure Zoom meetings to record classes, but to allow each faculty member to share the recording with students at his or her discretion. In this regard, we have asked faculty to balance reasonable concerns about the integrity of their classes against the reasonable needs of students who will be traveling to distant time zones, who may experience issues with their Internet connections to live classes, who may have conflicting parental responsibilities as schools and workplaces close, and who may be quarantined without Internet access upon return to their home countries.
We know that this e-mail does not answer all of your questions. I am acutely aware that many students have expressed concerns and in some cases are experiencing deep anxiety about our plans for administering and grading final exams this semester, as well as the collateral impact of those decisions on their academic record. We are actively investigating technological options for administering exams and assessing the decisions being made by our peers regarding the grading of exams (as well as guidance from the ABA and state bar examiners). We will strive to provide more information as soon as we can. As Dean Gaunt previously noted, we will host a Q&A Session with students on Thursday, March 19 at 1:00 pm.
I offer the modest hope that these class meetings may serve as a virtual community for those of you who might otherwise feel isolated as a result of the events unfolding around us. I wish you the best as you settle in to your surroundings for the next few weeks and look forward to seeing you later this week and in class next week.
Onnig H. Dombalagian
Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and George Denègre Professor of Law