Fall 2021 FAQs
For information for Spring 2022, please see the University's latest guidance.
This page was last updated on September 17, 2021. Please review the FAQs with some frequency as they are updated regularly when the law school receives new or revised information from the University, the Mayor's Office of the District of Columbia, the Centers for Disease Control, or other official reliable source of COVID information and protocols relevant to the law school and the health and safety of our community. Entries that have been added or edited recently will be noted with an asterisk (*).
The In-Person Program
The law school expects for classes and all other law school activities to be in person.
No, there is no University or law school process for medical exemptions to the requirement to attend in person.
In conjunction with the University Disability Support Services Office, the law school offers individualized accommodations for students with disabilities. Students who wish to discuss accommodations should contact the DSS Office at (202) 994-8250 or [email protected].
Students cannot attend class remotely, either in general or on particular days. If a student is unable to attend class, the ordinary process is for the student to seek permission to obtain a class recording in accordance with the law school’s class recording policy.
No, the faculty has not changed the class recording policy, which is under active review. The Law School, however, has made a change in interpretation of the policy that will affect students in classes where professors have not opted out of allowing students to record classes for pre-approved reasons. In particular, the School will interpret the phrase "medical documentation" in the policy to include an attestation by the student that the student is experiencing a potential symptom of a contagious disease. Thus, if you are experiencing such a symptom, and you are enrolled in a class in which recording is authorized for the specified pre-approved reasons, you may write a short email to the Dean of Students Office ([email protected]), even without a doctor's note, requesting recording. The purpose of this change is to highlight that students who are experiencing Covid symptoms should not come to class, even if they are unable or unwilling to seek medical attention.
Even before the pandemic, a few classes were designated as being “Distance Education” classes. But there are not currently enough such classes to allow students to attend fully remotely.
There is no process allowing faculty members to participate remotely for medical reasons. Faculty seeking accommodations for disabilities may contact [email protected] or by phone at (202) 994-9656.
The normal recourse for a professor who is ill or otherwise unavailable would be to schedule a makeup class. Nonetheless, there may be circumstances in which scheduling constraints make it more expedient for a professor to offer a class remotely at the usually scheduled class time than for the professor to offer a makeup class. This may be the case because makeup classes are already scheduled at the end of the semester, or because it is difficult to find time bands in which the vast majority of students would be able to participate in person. The option of conducting a class remotely should be taken rarely and only with advance notice provided to and permission received from the Senior Associate Dean (for regular faculty) or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (for adjunct faculty).
We encourage faculty to make class recordings available to students unavailable to attend class and to take other steps to assist such students. For example, professors may encourage or require observing pre-recorded videos or completing self-assessment questions. Students are encouraged to visit the professor or course teaching assistants during office hours.
Yes. The ABA requires that the faculty “be available for student consultation” about their classes, but it does not provide any specific means by which faculty must be available. Nor do the law school’s rules governing faculty. Some faculty hold group office hours, while other faculty meet with students individually. Faculty may conclude that holding office hours remotely will allow for greater student participation, particularly among students who may have left the law school building at the time that office hours are offered.
The law school Bulletin and the Bulletin Supplement note the method of evaluation for each course. As in the past, law school classes designated as “examination” will have in-person proctored exams at the times listed on the proctored exam schedule posted with the Fall 2021 course schedule. Such an exam may not be taken remotely. As was the case before the pandemic, methods of evaluation for other classes may include writing assignments or take-home exams (administered remotely via the MyLaw portal) rather than in-class exams.
Exams are given at prescheduled times. The current course and exam schedules are available on the Fall 2021 Records Information Page.
No. Last year, during the change from in-person to remote classes, many class caps were removed, and this made it possible to offer add/drop early. This year, class caps remain as a result in part of room size limitations, and we must proceed with registration in the usual order. This includes giving LLM students an opportunity for their initial registrations after they have received their academic orientations and before add/drop begins for JD students. We have, however, decided to begin add/drop for JD students two days early, on Saturday August 28, so that students may make schedule changes before the first day of class.
Yes. Faculty can plan and require such activities as long as they observe and follow all relevant health and safety requirements and protocols. If a student raises a health or safety concern about the activity, faculty shall work individually with the student to address the concern and, if necessary and feasible, attempt to enable the student to participate in the activity in a way that accommodates the student's particular health and safety needs.
Yes. Clinic faculty can continue to require students to engage in off-campus case-related activities necessary to provide the highest level of client representation as long as faculty counsel students to observe and comply with all relevant health and safety guidance. If a student raises a health or safety concern about the activity, faculty shall work individually with the student to address the concern and, if necessary, counsel the student to find alternate ways to complete the client work in a way that accommodates the student's particular health and safety needs and permits the student to meet the case-related needs.
We understand that a few students may arrive late for reasons beyond their control, such as health or legal restrictions in their home country. We encourage you to write to your professors alerting them to the issue and request class recordings. We encourage all professors to authorize recordings for students in this situation, as well as with students who are forced to miss class later in the semester for Covid-related reasons. If you have difficulties that you are unable to resolve with your professor, please contact the Dean of Students Office ([email protected]).
The law school does not have a general policy of allowing or prohibiting remote appointments. Faculty and staff are permitted to videoconference with students. The appropriateness of a remote appointment may depend on the office or service provided and on whether the faculty or staff members in that office have concluded that remote appointments will be effective. A law student who prefers a remote appointment should discuss this request with the applicable faculty or staff member.
Yes. Outside of class settings, events organizers may choose to use Zoom or other technologies to host events.
The law school does not have dedicated space for teleconferencing, but students may teleconference in student study areas in which speaking aloud is permitted.
The Vaccination Policy
The University has created an extensive FAQ page concerning GW's vaccine policy. Both the FAQ page and Covid-19 information site are updated regularly, so check back often.
GW will require students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, except those who receive an approved medical or religious exemption.
August 1. Students, faculty, and staff who are already completely vaccinated are encouraged to submit their vaccine paperwork as soon as possible to avoid delays. Your vaccination documentation must be personally reviewed and approved.
The deadline was June 6.
Any visitor to campus must register with the University at go.gwu.edu/visitor and complete a COVID-19 symptom screening form. The visitor must attest either that the visitor is vaccinated or that the visitor has received a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the visit. Following completion of the form, a visitor will receive a registration confirmation by email that the visitor should provide to the campus host. For large-scale events, proof of vaccination or of a negative test may be required.
Yes, all individuals in University buildings are required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors. This decision follows the District of Columbia's decision to once again require masks. University officials will continue to review the mask policy as the medical situation develops based on consultation with governmental officials and public health experts.
The University follows the District of Columbia mask policy, under which a person "giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, provided no one is within six feet of the speaker" is not required to wear a mask. Faculty, however, may choose to wear masks even when at least six feet from others for their own safety or the safety of others.
Students may briefly lower their masks in class to drink water or may drink using a straw, but should not remain unmasked over an extended period of time. Eating is generally not allowed during class sessions, though eating is permitted at law school events where food is served.
The faculty member should ask the student to put on a mask, suggesting if necessary that the student leave to obtain one. A supply of masks will be available at the Law School's information desk. A faculty member may give students a short break from class to speak with a noncompliant student. If a student refuses to comply and insists on remaining present, the classroom will not be considered safe, and the class cannot be held. The professor should report any such refusal to the Dean of Students Office or to the Senior Associate Dean for Administrative Affairs for appropriate action. As a last resort, a faculty member may contact the GW Police Department for assistance in removing a non-compliant student from a class.
Yes. Information on the University's testing program is available here. Schedule a test at mychc.gwu.edu. The Foggy Bottom test location is conveniently directly across from the law school, in the medical trailer in Lot 3 on the corner of 20th and H Streets, NW.
You should obtain your first test no later than the day before Orientation or, for students not attending Orientation, the day before the first day of classes.
Appointments are available at https://mychc.gwu.edu.
Testing hours are from 6:30 am until 7 pm.
No. University health officials will not accept test results from outside sources.
You should fill out a COVID-19 Exposure Report. This report will be forwarded to the Campus COVID Support Team (CCST) for any needed follow-up. If you are vaccinated, quarantine will not be required, unless you experience symptoms of COVID-19. You will, however, be asked to take a test 3-5 days after a known exposure. If you are unvaccinated, then you will be asked to quarantine for 10 days.
The use of seating charts may facilitate contact tracing but is not required, as such matters of classroom management are at the discretion of faculty members.
Buildings and Facilities
The University Facilities, Planning, Construction and Management (FPCM) team took the following steps in preparation for our return:
- Updated heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems where necessary. Our buildings align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for building reopenings and industry-leading guidance from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for ventilation, filtration and air exchange.
- Continued ongoing cleaning in all campus spaces.
- Continued preventative pest control services.
- Performed preventative maintenance checks on all mechanical systems in every building.
- Performed monthly water flushes in buildings to minimize the risk of diseases associated with stagnant water.
- Performed full building air flushes where applicable prior to the start of the academic year to improve indoor air quality.
- Updated public health guidance signage.
As part of the University “Restart” project, the following actions were conducted to every building’s HVAC/Mechanical system:
- Assessed the suitability of each system to operate.
- Validated that the HVAC was working properly and performed any required preventative maintenance.
- Conducted complete building air and water flushes.
- Evaluated and calibrated HVAC set-points.
- Increased air exchange rates (to the extent such rates could be modified).
Although recommendations were not consistent across all published guidance, the sources bulleted below were reviewed in their entirety and originally used by a third-party contractor to select the most appropriate targets for HVAC/Mechanical operations during the pandemic:
- American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Position Document on Infectious Aerosols (April 14, 2020)
- ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force for Colleges and Universities (August 2020)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
Our dedicated facilities team has continued to work onsite throughout the pandemic to ensure campus spaces are ready for occupancy. When returning to campus, you can expect the following:
- Common areas in residence halls and academic and administrative spaces have been continuously cleaned and maintained throughout the pandemic.
- Common kitchen and pantry areas, including refrigerators, have been cleaned.
- Hand sanitizer stations have been placed at the entrance areas of most buildings.
- Hand wipes will be provided in food venues and computer labs.
The University Facilities Department has continued to work onsite throughout the pandemic to ensure campus spaces are ready for occupancy. When returning to campus, you can expect a return to our pre-COVID level cleaning process, which includes overnight and early morning cleaning in preparation for the regular business day. Common areas in academic and administrative spaces will be cleaned repeatedly throughout the day as always.
No. The law school will not provide a plexiglass barrier for professors to teach behind.
Rooms will not have supplemental air purifiers.
No, because of the danger of rodents and the threat of mold given our humid environment.
There is no need for social distancing as all of those in the law school will either be vaccinated or wearing masks. Law professors, however, often assign seats to students, and they may continue to do so as they see fit.
There will be no capacity limits anywhere on campus, other than the usual capacity limits mandated by the Fire Code.
The Inns of Court will be permitted to operate at full capacity in both the Great Room, the FCC, and SCC.
Buffets and shared food are permitted during the Inns of Court sessions and other events.
If your GWorld card expired during the pandemic, it will nonetheless continue to work at the beginning of the school year. You are encouraged to renew your card at the GWorld Office in the University Student Center at 800 21st St. NW. You may avoid lines if you are able to do this before the start of the school year.
Your card also may be disabled if the University has not confirmed that you are fully vaccinated and you have not yet taken a required COVID test. Your card will be reenabled shortly after you take the COVID test, even before the test is complete. If you nonetheless have problems with building access, you may visit the GW Police Department at 2145 G St. NW.
When the pandemic started, many work areas were equipped with plastic shields. Shields may remain in place, be removed, or be added, depending on the needs of the employee working in that space and their frequency of contact with visitors.
If you are a new student, you will receive your card at orientation. If you are a returning student who lost a card, please stop by the GWorld Office (open weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to request a replacement card for a $25 fee. If you are a returning student, faculty or staff member whose card is expired, you may also stop by the GWorld Office to renew your card.
Yes. You will need your GWorld card for entry to the Law School building.
The University Student Center and the District House Food Court will be unlocked. Your GWorld card will allow you entrance to most other campus buildings, such as Gelman Library.
The law school does not anticipate a need to switch but recognizes that if the incidence of COVID cases dramatically increases, particularly among fully vaccinated individuals, a change in policy might be needed. Similarly, a change in policy could be needed in the unlikely event that another pandemic occurs. The University would work in conjunction with governmental and public health officials to determine whether some change is necessary, such as a return to all-remote learning, adoption of a three-foot distancing rule, or resumption of a mask mandate.
If the University orders an end to in-person learning, then law school classes will be taught using tools like Zoom, as they were during the 2020-21 school year.
The University has asked each of its schools to develop a contingency plan for this scenario. This scenario would come into effect only if the University determined that full in-person instruction was no longer safe but that instruction with three feet of social distancing would be safe. The law school’s plan has two principal components, which in combination would preserve what we currently believe to be the pedagogical superiority of remote to hybrid learning yet allow students to benefit from the use of University facilities and interaction with classmates.
First, the vast majority of students would participate remotely. The law school would seek to identify a few faculty teaching in the large classrooms, which have some equipment to facilitate hybrid instruction, willing to engage in hybrid instruction. Students in these classes would be surveyed about the relative effectiveness of hybrid and remote instruction, and further plans would be developed based on faculty and student assessments.
Second, students would be given the opportunity on certain days to be in the law school complex. Each student would be informed of the days in which he or she could attend in person. Students choosing to attend in person would then proceed to the classroom in which each class would ordinarily be taught. In a class being taught remotely, an in-person student would then use the student’s laptop to connect remotely to a Zoom feed, launched by the professor from a remote location. On any given day in any given class, the number of students permitted to attend in person would be less than the number of students who can fit in the applicable room with a three-foot distancing rule in place. Seats in which students may not sit would be marked as unavailable.