Fall 2021 FAQs

The George Washington University Law School

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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.

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 accomodations 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).

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.

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.

GW’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement applies only to students, faculty and staff. Visitors are required to abide by the University’s COVID-related health and safety protocols. Thus, a visitor who is not fully vaccinated is required to wear a mask.

Masks

Yes. Students, faculty, and staff with medical and religious exemptions may enter University buildings and attend class, but a person with an exemption must wear a mask and also must submit to University testing protocols.

Yes. People may wear masks and/or face shields for a variety of reasons. Some people feel more comfortable wearing masks and/or face shields even if they are vaccinated, while others may be attempting to protect family members or friends or may be exempted from the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons. In addition, the District of Columbia may continue to require everyone to wear masks when using public transit or when in hospitals and other health care facilities. Anyone who wishes to wear a mask and/or a face shield may do so without being penalized for this choice.

It is a good idea. The District of Columbia may continue to require everyone to wear a mask when using public transit or when in hospitals and other health care facilities, including those on the GW campus.

No. Students who are not required to wear masks cannot be asked or required to wear masks in class by their professors, and students cannot require their professors or fellow students to wear masks. Faculty and staff may not penalize students who refuse to wear masks, nor may they penalize students who choose to wear masks. This remains the case even if the faculty member or a student in a class is immunocompromised or has some other good reason to prefer that others wear masks.

Yes, a professor may require a student to wear a mask in an individual office, but such a professor must provide an alternative meeting arrangement, such as a remote meeting, if a student is unwilling to do and must not penalize a student who requests such an alternative arrangement.

We know of no University plans to inform faculty or staff about students’ medical or religious exemptions. If a faculty or staff member is aware of a violation of a mask requirement, for example, because a student who is not wearing a mask informs this person that the student has not been vaccinated, the faculty or staff member may report that to University officials.

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.

The law school does not have dedicated space for teleconferencing, but students may teleconference in student study areas in which speaking aloud is permitted.

Buildings and Facilities Questions

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.

Changing Plans

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.