Dear members of the BC Law community:
Earlier this week, the University provided an important update regarding undergraduate academic plans, campus-wide testing, contact tracing and self monitoring, and dining on campus. We would like to clarify some important details about our own plans.
The Law School has a different academic calendar this fall than the University. As we announced in late June, upper-level courses at the Law School will begin on August 24, a week earlier than previously scheduled. Our 2Ls and 3Ls will also end classes earlier, on November 24, before the Thanksgiving break. Our 1Ls start class on August 31, will depart from campus with the 2Ls and 3Ls on November 24, and will continue classes remotely during the week after Thanksgiving (November 30 - December 4). All Law School exams will be administered remotely and will be open book take-home exams.
However, our overall mode of instruction and safety protocols are in line with the University. We are focused on designating classes as either in-person or remote instruction. For our incoming first-year students, each 1L section will have at least two classes taught in person, which will help them build relationships with each other and our faculty, and aid in their adjustment to the study of law. Other classes will be taught remotely. In-person courses will be taught in classrooms that are large enough to accommodate safe physical distancing.
We are offering a mix of in-person and remote classes for 2Ls and 3Ls. Many of the large upper-level classes will be taught remotely. Other classes will be designated as in-person or remote based on classroom availability. For the most part, the class meeting times in the fall course schedule will remain the same. The critical distinction will be whether a class will meet in person or remotely.
The Law School administration is working closely with the University to determine the capacity for our classrooms. We are also exploring additional spaces for instruction. We anticipate that the capacity for most of our Law School classrooms might be one third of their normal capacity. We hope to receive this information soon, and then can circulate a revised fall schedule next week, labeling each course as in-person or remote. Subsequent format changes to the revised schedule are possible given the evolving nature of the pandemic and its impact on faculty ability to teach in person. We do not yet have guidance from the State regarding maximum classroom capacity for higher education. If such guidelines are set, we may need to make further adjustments.
We will continue to follow all governmental health and safety regulations on campus. As such, in making your arrangements for the fall, please consult and follow the MA state guidelines regarding quarantining for two weeks before coming to campus. The guidelines are state specific, which means that students from certain states as outlined in the guidelines are exempt from these quarantine requirements. Students quarantining would be permitted to attend in-person classes remotely and would need to inform their professors if this is the case. In addition, the University is aiming to have its required testing available for law students, staff and faculty prior to, or in concert with, their arrival on campus. More information will be forthcoming.
For more detailed information regarding the Law School’s fall reopening plans, please review our updated FAQs and our incoming student experience website. For more about campus-wide health and safety protocols, testing, self-checks, contract tracing, and cleaning, please review the University’s reopening website.
Finally, I would like to address an important issue affecting our international students. On Monday, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program announced a significant change to the temporary pandemic exemptions that had been in place this spring and summer for nonimmigrant students taking online classes. The new directive from ICE now prohibits international students in the US from taking online courses exclusively, and effectively limits the ability of international students outside the US to enter if their institution is only providing online instruction. Although the Law School is in a better position than some other schools because we are offering both in-person and remote instruction, please be assured that we will work with our international students who need to make changes to their course registration for visa reasons.
While we are in a good position to help our students, this directive was shocking to all of us in higher education. I am personally outraged by the unnecessary, untimely and cruel change to the pandemic exemptions. Many in our community have signed on to the petition on the student ban to let our collective voices on this be heard. Yesterday, in my role as president-elect and member of the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools, I signed on to the amicus brief in support of the Harvard and MIT lawsuit, led by the American Council on Education (ACE). With signatories from 70 other learned societies and academic associations, a record number of signatories for an ACE-led amicus brief, ACE asserted this “reflects the broad and deep concern across the entire spectrum of higher education regarding this issue, and our collective hope that our government’s checks and balances will work here in the manner envisioned by the Constitution.” The brief is being prepared for submission to Judge Allison Burroughs of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the hearing is scheduled for July 14. We hope for a quick decision on the issuance of an injunction.
Dean, Boston College Law School
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