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 April 22, 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

The Career Center is open for business during this period and keeping current on legal market news and employer trends. Students may schedule a phone appointment with a Career Counselor to talk through specific job search needs, concerns about the market, and other related issues.  

The Career Center's COVID-19 Career Advice document contains up-to-date information and FAQs for students still searching for a summer or post-grad position, as well as for those with concerns about an offer that has already been accepted. 

The Career Center hosted a "town hall" webinar on April 8th to answer students' pre-submitted questions and to share what we've heard from employers about their hiring plans. This program was recorded and can be found in CORE along with our other COVID-19 Resources.

On-Campus Recruiting will now take place in Winter 2021. This postponement allows employers more time to determine their hiring needs and to consider grades from Fall 2020 in reviewing students' applications. As it becomes available, additional information will be updated on the Recruitment Programs page on our website.

Commencement

Although the university has announced the cancellation of an in-person Commencement, we are excited to hold a virtual commencement for you during Commencement Weekend.

Visit the GW Law Virtual Commencement Site

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.

In addition to the University Bicentennial Commencement Ceremony on the National Mall in May 2021, the law school will host an event in your honor. We will provide more information on both these events when circumstances permit. In the meantime, please accept our congratulations and gratitude.

While a May 1 delivery date was anticipated for those who ordered regalia, Herff Jones has experienced unforeseen challenges in plant and shipping operations due to COVID-19. We learned on April 30 that regalia will not be delivered until the end of May. We apologize for this inconvenience. To accommodate for this delay, we now request you return your regalia by July 8. Thank you for your patience and consideration.

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

As you are aware, due to the social distancing order issued by Washington, DC Mayor Bowser (Mayor's Order 2020-058), you are not permitted to come to the law school to retrieve your property from your rental lockers. Accordingly, the University has contracted with Hilldrup Moving to pack out your lockers and mail the contents to you or hold the contents for you or someone you designate for pickup. Please fill out our Locker Pack Out Form  which will be provided to Hilldrup. The form requests the information that will assist Hilldrup with this work. Please complete and submit the form by May 15.

You will be asked to provide the following information in the form:

  • Name
  • Locker location
  • Locker number
  • Consent to cut your lock to obtain access
  • Whether you want the contents mailed to you with an address that you provide or for the contents to be held in Hilldrup's facility at 44050 Mercure Circle, Suite 1, Dulles, VA 20166, for pickup by you or someone you designate at a later date.

Hilldrup will begin work on or about May 20 and we will keep you posted as work progresses. 

Locker Pack Out Form

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. 

Community

As we transition to virtual learning environments due to the COVID-19 crisis, we remain committed to fostering the most inclusive and equitable community. This commitment should be at the core of our academic experiences, student organization meetings, staff interactions, virtual social gatherings, and all other GW related activities. Now more than ever, we need to be purposeful about embodying our GW values: integrity, collaboration, courage, respect, excellence, openness, and diversity. 

Read the full message from President Thomas LeBlanc below.

Dear GW Community,

As we transition to virtual learning environments due to the COVID-19 crisis, we remain committed to fostering the most inclusive and equitable community. This commitment should be at the core of our academic experiences, student organization meetings, staff interactions, virtual social gatherings, and all other GW related activities. Now more than ever, we need to be purposeful about embodying our GW values: integrity, collaboration, courage, respect, excellence, openness, and diversity. 

While the spread of COVID-19 has led to an increased sense of community for some, we know that the crisis has also put a spotlight on inequity and hatred in our nation and in the world. Incidents have been reported to the university since the rise of the virus and the university may see an increase in bias-related behaviors and hurtful experiences. These behaviors do not align with our values. Those who take part in creating a hostile environment will be held accountable through our university processes and policies against various forms of discrimination and harassment. The university’s Equal Opportunity, Non-Discrimination, Anti-Retaliation, and Non-Retaliation policy contains information about available pathways for filing a report. Members of the GW community may also report any bias-related experiences during this period of virtual learning through the Bias Incident Online Reporting form.

Our Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE) provided guidance to support us as we continue to move forward. Below you will find five documents with links to additional resources:

ODECE remains available through [email protected] and all of the staff are accessible via email too. We encourage you to reach out to ODECE if you have questions about the documents above and of course if the team can be helpful in providing further guidance. Staff in Student Rights & ResponsibilitiesTitle IX, and the Office for Advocacy & Support are also prepared to engage members of our campus community virtually.

We want to thank the dedicated staff in the Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement for their ongoing work to support and promote equity and inclusion on our campus. We are also grateful for so many other faculty, staff, and students outside ODECE that take up the charge of promoting a diverse and inclusive community. GW will emerge from this crisis better and stronger than ever if we do it together. 

Raise High,

Thomas LeBlanc
President

M. Brian Blake
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Caroline Laguerre-Brown
Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement

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