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Law Graduate Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Taking the In-Person Bar Exam
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A Colorado law school graduate tested positive for coronavirus shortly after taking the in-person bar examination at the University of Denver, school officials confirmed Thursday.

Nealy 700 would-be lawyers sat for the Colorado licensing test that took place at DU and other sites in Denver and Boulder on July 27. Colorado is one of the 20 jurisdictions that administered the bar exam in person, despite COVID-19 concerns. The test became a controversial topic this past month after Colorado law graduates launched a campaign urging state officials to reconsider the in-person bar exam.

Now, DU officials urge the 22 test-takers who sat in the same room with the infected examinee to monitor themselves for coronavirus symptoms.

  
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“In circumstances when a community member or visitor to campus informs the University of Denver that they have tested positive for COVID-19, the university initiates a contact-tracing protocol so that anyone who may have been exposed to the virus is promptly notified. Safety and security of the DU community is the highest priority.” Jon Stone, a DU spokesman, said in a statement.

“The University’s COVID response team was promptly informed of this development and has instituted appropriate protocols to be used in such instances, including contact tracing.”

Jessica Yates, Attorney Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court, said the examinee was an asymptomatic carrier and passed every screening test required, including four health questionnaires and two temperature checks.

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Yates said that other test takers who were in the same room are not at high risk, as the infected examinee wore a mask.

“We have been in touch with both DU and the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment,” Yates said, “Because of the wearing of masks, particularly with 6-foot distancing, they do not deem the testing environment as ‘close contact’ with a COVID positive person.”



Yates said the examinee told the state’s supreme court they had taken a coronavirus test before the bar exam in anticipation of a surgical procedure, and the results came back positive two days after the exam.

“We learned about this yesterday evening after the bar exam was finished,” Yates said. “The examinee informed us that they had taken a COVID test in anticipation of a surgical procedure and learned through a voicemail received after the exam that the test came back positive.”

The examinee who tested positive for the novel virus was one of the law grads who campaigned against gathering a large group of people for two days during the pandemic.

The group of recent law grads raised concerns of potential virus exposure. It urged the Colorado Supreme Court to follow the steps of jurisdictions that have waived the 2020 bar examination and invoked emergency diploma privilege amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group issued a joint statement Thursday in response to the news, advising other states to cancel the in-person exam to avoid the same scenario.

“We have been concerned about this exact scenario and have spoken out about it since the beginning of July,” the graduates said in their statement. “We hope other jurisdictions holding in-person bar examinations will take this event as a lesson that no matter how safe you think you are being, you cannot prevent an asymptomatic carrier, including those acting in good faith and completely unaware of their infected status, from sitting the exam.”

After the law grad’s campaign, the Colorado Supreme Court updated the earlier rule to allow recent law graduates the option to skip the July exam and practice law in limited capacities under the supervision of a licensed attorney — but didn’t approve diploma privilege. Graduates are arguing that law firms are rejecting people with provisional law licenses.

State officials will notify the public should any other examinee test positive for COVID-19.



 

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