GW Law and COVID-19

Below you will find a guide to information relating to GW Law and COVID-19. This information will continue to be updated.

 

Housing

Last updated March 18, 2020

 

Library

Last updated March 20, 2020

 

Exams

Last updated March 20, 2020

 

Grading

Last updated March 27, 2020

 

Clinics

Last updated March 20, 2020

 

Lockers

Last updated March 20, 2020

 

Zoom

Last updated March 20, 2020

Spring Semester Classes

In light of CDC-recommended social distancing measures and restrictions on group gatherings, all classes for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester will be convened remotely.  

Housing

On-campus housing in The Aston will be closed on April 5. The university will be prorating housing costs and you will eventually receive money back for the time you have been unable to be housed on campus.

Students who are still on campus but planning to move out are encouraged to take as many belongings as possible from the residence hall. If things cannot be moved out, they can be left behind. Updates on how to obtain those belongings will be forthcoming. Storage options may be available. Additional university guidance regarding storage options is also forthcoming.

Students approved to stay through April 5 can still do so (but are encouraged to leave earlier if possible).

Students who need to stay beyond April 5 should email [email protected] to request an extension with a firm date that you wish to stay until. This email must set forth in detail the reasons you need to stay on campus past April 5.

For any students living in The Aston who have applied to remain on campus until April 5 but choose to leave before Friday, March 20 at 5 p.m., please email [email protected] to confirm and cancel the application. You will receive the 14-day refund.  Students who applied to stay on campus until April 5 and remain on campus after Friday, March 20 at 5 pm, will not receive the 14-day refund but will be eligible for prorated housing costs.

If for any reason you are unable to get home but wish to move off-campus please contact [email protected] to discuss alternatives.

Please expect more regular updates from the housing office.

Financial Hardship

Students experiencing financial hardship due to these COVID-19-related disruptions should contact the law school Financial Aid Office at [email protected] for possible access to additional funding.

Mutual Assistance

The SBA has put together a spreadsheet for students who need assistance with housing, food, transportation, and other needs during this time. You may offer help, and the spreadsheet will match you with those who need support. The link to the spreadsheet can be found here.

Approval has been granted to transfer all funds that student organizations currently possess into the central SBA Fund-at-Large for redistribution in accordance with SBA rules and bylaws and approval by the Dean of Students. 

Field Placement

All Field Placement Program participants are now directed to work remotely if possible, even if your offices remain open. Please speak with your externship supervisor to make the appropriate arrangements.

If your placements allow you to work remotely, you must work with your field supervisor to ensure that you have enough remote work to fill your field placement hours, and it must include the production of original, substantive work product. 

If your placements do not allow you to work remotely and you have not yet met your hours and work product requirements, you are encouraged to work with your field placement supervisor to create research and writing projects. The projects should be unrelated to current office matters and do not require the use of the placement’s files or other placement-specific or confidential materials. All students are required to maintain the same hours working remotely as they did in the office.

All Field Placement Program students should email Jennifer Dowdy, Program Coordinator for Field Placement, at [email protected], to update her on whether you are

  1. permitted to complete externship work remotely; or
  2. not permitted to complete externship work remotely.

If you are not permitted to complete office work remotely, please indicate whether your externship supervisor:

  1. can assign you projects; or
  2. is no longer able to supervise you.   

Library

Effective Monday, March 23, the Jacob Burns Law Library will be closed.

The Law Library has developed two guides for information during this period. Our guide on GWU Law Library COVID-19 Operations provides information on how to obtain library materials (including scanning casebooks on reserve, mailing books to you, etc.) and how to contact a reference librarian via email, chat, or text. Our guide on Information for Students Regarding Online Learning provides information on where publishers have made ebook versions of materials, including casebooks, available.

Exams

GW students will have take-home exams that are administered through the portal (“MyLaw”). When exam time approaches, you will receive very specific instructions from the Records Office that walk you through the process. Students will be able to download their exams beginning at the scheduled exam time and will have 24 hours within which to upload their responses. The uploaded documents will be scrubbed of metadata, converted to PDFs, and stamped with each student’s GWID to maintain the anonymity of the grading process.

  1. Exams will be open-book. However, expect your faculty to specify their precise expectations about what you may or may not consult, and please understand that the Academic Integrity Code applies.
  2. Although you will download your exam to take it, please also expect your faculty to specify their expectations in the exam instructions. For example, faculty may request that students
    delete or destroy any such copies after completing the exam.
  3. This approach does not permit the use of scantrons, but we are exploring an option for faculty who give multiple-choice questions to use a Google Form that will function like a scantron. You will hear from your individual instructors if they are planning to use this approach. 

The 24-hour window allows students to have more time than they would for in-person exams, but the exam is expected to require the effort previously scheduled (e.g., a 3-hour class’s exam will require the effort of 3 hours). These parameters take into consideration academic accommodations under the ADA and ensure that students in different time zones are not disadvantaged. Faculty may impose word-count limits, so be sure to look for and follow any instructions to that effect. 

Grading

As many of you have expressed, a critical issue the law school confronts is whether to modify our grading protocols in light of the reality we now face. We have heard deeply thoughtful perspectives from many students that demonstrate not only the significant effort you have put into your studies but also the extraordinary hardships many of you are currently facing. From our faculty and staff, we have heard concerns about the current wellbeing of our students as well as the trajectories of their future careers, and have been impressed by a robust commitment to a common purpose of providing our students a legal education that ensures readiness for a lifetime of service, advocacy, and public engagement. Alumni, employers, bar organizations, and law schools across the country also have expressed an understanding that this semester is like no other and have repeatedly indicated how strongly they stand in solidarity with our law students. And we are confident that the legal profession will continue to appreciate the professionalism, work ethic, and academic excellence that has defined GW Law graduates for generations – regardless of any change in our grading policy.

Having considered all that we now face, both individually and as an institution, the conclusion has been reached that it is in the best interest of our students to follow a mandatory credit/no-credit (CR/NC) grading system for all law school courses offered during the Spring 2020 semester. 

This decision has taken into account the perspectives of those throughout the GW Law community, and it is not one arrived at hastily or easily. Under normal circumstances, letter grades may accurately reflect achievement and merit. Relying upon this measure during a time of uncertainty and unprecedented crisis risks unfairly reflecting arbitrary forces that are outside of our students’ control.

In implementing this policy, we will follow these parameters:

  • Transcripts will include a notation reflecting that in spring 2020, a mandatory CR/NC system was applied due to the public health emergency and not student choice;
  • Courses from the spring 2020 semester will not be counted toward otherwise applicable limits on the number of CR/NC hours students may take;  
  • Exams will proceed in the online, take-home format previously announced;
  • Faculty are to carefully evaluate exams to ensure that CR or NC is warranted, with an NC to apply for D or F-level work; and
  • Faculty who are overseeing the JD writing requirement or a graduate student's written work requirement must certify that such papers meet the criteria for CR as described above.

In addition, the Office of Career Services is working toward moving on-campus interviews until winter of 2021. Those details will be shared when available.  

Career Center

All in-person Career Center events have been canceled for the remainder of the spring semester. The remaining Career Center workshops and the two scheduled sessions of "What to Expect...GW Law's 2020 Recruitment Programs" will be conducted via webinars.  Login instructions for these programs can be found in the event listings in CORE.

The GW Law Career Center will continue to provide students with all of its regular services during this period of online instruction, and the office is prepared to discuss the impact of social distancing on your job search. The following information is also on the Career Center website and in CORE.

All counseling appointments will be held over the phone. When scheduling your appointment, please be sure to provide the phone number on which you can be reached. Your Career Counselor will call you at the time of your appointment.

You may direct any questions regarding Career Center operations to [email protected]

Commencement

Although the university has announced the cancellation of Commencement, we are actively researching ways to safely celebrate your graduation and recognize your academic achievements. We are soliciting input from you as well. Please send your ideas for possible virtual celebration of your individual and class achievements as well as proposals for future celebrations to Alesha Garvin ([email protected]), Administrative Assistant to the Dean.

Reimbursement for non-refundable commencement related expenses is under consideration by the University. We will provide you with an update as soon as a decision has been made.

Some students have inquired whether graduation regalia can be made available to those who wish to memorialize their graduation from GW Law. The dean's office has made arrangements for regalia to be provided to students upon request at no cost.

Students interested in receiving regalia from our regalia provider, Herff Jones, should complete this form by April 7 for a May 1 delivery of regalia.  You must fill out this special form even if you already ordered regalia online.

Please note that you must have an off-campus address to receive regalia. A prepaid shipping label will be provided to enable you to ship the regalia back to Herff Jones. Please ship the regalia back to Herff Jones no later than May 20.

Summer Session

We anticipate registration will begin on May 4 and classes on May 18 as scheduled.

Health and Wellness

We care deeply about your health and wellness at GW Law. You can find resources and support on the GW Law Portal and this page. We will continue to update this content regularly.

Clinics

All Clinic students are directed to work remotely on their casework and to continue to meet their academic requirements by attending seminar class and completing all assignments. Supervisors will work closely with students to complete casework zealously on behalf of clients while following guidance on social distancing and any other guidance issued by the law school and by the tribunals in which Clinic students practice.

Faculty will work with students to ensure that they are given opportunities to fulfill their clinic obligations and to get the full credit for which they enrolled. Some assignments may be converted into research projects or emergency casework to be completed remotely.

Lockers

The university is working on a policy that will allow students to reclaim their possessions. Guidance will be forthcoming. The Dean's Office has been working with the SBA on how to best provide access to the law school in accordance with university and CDC guidelines. 

Zoom

Faculty are requested not to use Zoom to conduct classroom sessions. The university does not have an agreement with Zoom, therefore student information collected through Zoom is a potential FERPA violation. Accordingly, until the university reaches an agreement with Zoom, faculty should only use approved technology platforms when concerning classes. Zoom can still be used for non-instructional classes. 

Contact Info for Additional Questions

The university recently launched a COVID-19 hotline – 855-GWU-INFO – which is open and ready to answer any questions you may have regarding the university’s preparedness for COVID-19. 

For law-school-specific questions, please email [email protected] and visit this page. This website will be updated regularly as new information becomes available. Please check back regularly.

Sincerely,

The Dean's Office