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Law Schools Reverse Campus Reopening Plans
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A number of law schools that had previously announced plans to reopen campuses have reversed their decisions due to COVID-19 concerns. The rapid growth of coronavirus infections across the country has prompted law schools to walk back their previous plans to hold in-person classes. 

Georgetown University Law Center announced July 29 that it’s moving the entire university, including the law school, to an online format amid a spike in coronavirus cases. 

“Due to the acceleration of the spread of the virus and increasing restrictions on interstate travel we cannot proceed with our original plans for returning to campus this fall,” wrote the president of Georgetown University, John J. DeGioia in a statement published on the school’s website. “This was a very difficult decision—and one that I know will disappoint members of our community who have been eagerly anticipating a return to campus.”


In June, the school announced plans to reduce 1L classes to fewer than 40 students and allow them to come to campus but remain socially distant. A month later, however, the significant rise in virus infections nationwide, as well as a new requirement by the DC government of a two-week quarantine period for all individuals arriving in the District from more than 25 states that have been designated COVID hotspots, led the school to scrap previous plans and to begin the semester with remote instruction only, said Law Dean William Treanor in a memo to students.

Treanor said the school would hold online classes for at least the first month of the semester, with a slight chance to move to a hybrid format after.

As a silver lining, the school informed students that tuition for the Fall semester for all Georgetown Law students would be reduced by 5% as a one-time adjustment.

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On the heel of Georgetown’s decision to reverse course on plans to reopen campus, another law school announced similar plans.

Northern Illinois University College of Law in an Aug. 3 announcement informed students that the school is shifting away from its initial plan to hold a hybrid of online and in-person classes, going fully remote this fall instead.

“I know this is a change from our prior decision to hold some classes in person under a hybrid model. When we made those plans, it was with the assumption that the virus would be on a downward trajectory by the beginning of the fall semester, or at least be stable,” wrote Law Dean Cassandra Hill in a letter to students. “We make this decision reluctantly, but in the strong belief that it is in the best interests of the entire law school community and reinforces our pedagogical goals.”

More than 32 ABA-accredited law schools have announced their plans to go entirely online for the fall semester, offering a very limited amount of in-person instruction to select groups of students.

In June, Harvard Law became the first school to announce it would switch to a remote format for the upcoming fall semester. A number of law schools followed suit soon after, including Howard University School of Law; the University of Southern California Gould School of Law; George Washington School of Law; and the University of Connecticut School of Law.



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