Photograph: Students in a classroom.

July 17, 2020 Update From Dean Lowry

Dear Law Students,

You probably saw the University’s Covid-19 update that was sent yesterday, July 16.

Although there still aren’t answers to some of your excellent questions, and everything is subject to change, it seems important to your planning to note a few things:

    1. All Courses Available Remotely Even if Also Available In-Person.
      The University plan notes that some courses will be "conducted entirely in-person in a physical classroom." ALL law school courses taught in person in a classroom will be broadcast live via Zoom to students participating in that course remotely. This will make the entire curriculum accessible to students who elect to participate in classes remotely.
      1. Students may participate in classes remotely to stay safe from COVID-19, and do not need to produce any documentation to do so.
      2. Students electing to participate in courses remotely due to health and safety concerns imposed by the pandemic are not required to live in Topeka or within a commutable distance of the law school.
      3. There is no deadline for a student deciding they want to attend remotely; they may make that decision at any time, including after classes start. A student may also decide to move from remote to in-person attendance as long as there is class space available.
      4. Students MUST participate in class remotely if they experience any symptom of COVID-19 and can only return to campus after being symptom free for at least 3 days. See the CDC list of symptoms.
      5. Students entering Kansas from a jurisdiction with high COVID-19 infection rates must quarantine for 14 days before coming to campus. See Section D below for further guidance.
      6. Although all students are expected to attend classes live (whether in person or remotely; see Class Attendance policy), all courses will also be recorded in case a student must be absent for the day (see Course Recording Due to COVID-19 Pandemic.
      7. Our accrediting body, the ABA Council on Legal Education, has not stated whether it will allow law schools to continue to deliver the entire curriculum via distance education in the Spring, but the law school plans to request such permission if the pandemic continues into the Spring 2021 semester as it is currently predicted to do.
    2. No Institutional Penalty for Remote Attendance
      A little over half the student body has completed the Requesting Remote Class Attendance Survey and the majority have indicated that they plan to attend in person. A substantial number of those planning to attend remotely have voiced concerns that we address here:
      1. There will be no course penalty for choosing remote instruction or for choosing in-person instruction: which you choose is entirely a personal decision to be determined by your own personal circumstances. Specifically:
      2. There will be no penalty in any class participation points simply because you attend remotely.
      3. With the possible exception of a clinic or externship course, there will be no course in which you will have a grade requirement to do in-person activities on campus or in the community. If you are taking a clinic course, please contact your clinic professor if you have questions. If you are taking an externship course, please contact Dean Leisinger if you have questions.
      4. Professors are not going to be making a judgment about whether students choose to attend in person or remotely.
      5. Prospective employers are not only highly unlikely to make a judgment on whether you attend in person or remotely, they won't even know, as this will not be indicated on your transcript.
      6. All students participating remotely will have remote access to library assistance for research help and assistance with electronic resources and other materials to prevent academic advantage to being on campus.
    3. Law School Keeping Original Fall Schedule.
      The University plan, in posting adjustments to the academic calendar, notes that these do not apply to the law school. The Law School does not plan to adjust the fall calendar. Therefore:
      1. The first day of regular classes is still Monday, August 24.
      2. Friday, September 4 will still be the last day to withdraw from a course and receive 100% tuition refund.
      3. Labor Day will still be a school holiday.
      4. Tuesday, November 24 will still be the last day of classes.
      5. Exams are still scheduled to begin Tuesday, December 1 and end Friday, December 11.
      6. Exams will be remote; no need to return to campus after November 24. No decision will be made immediately on whether library or building use will be allowed after November 24.
      7. No decision will be made immediately about December Commencement.
    4. Check for Mandatory Quarantine
      Due to the upswing in Covid cases, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is mandating quarantines for international, domestic, and cruise-related travel. If you are coming to Kansas after having been on a cruise or in another country or state and wish to attend class in person on the first day, you should regularly check the updates on whether this means you will need to arrive in Kansas by August 10. See Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Travel-Related Quarantine Guidelines | COVID-19 (173 KB PDF).

      As of July 14, the quarantine includes many of those coming from other countries, to all who have taken a river or ocean cruise on or after March 15, to those who have been in Arizona on or after June 17, and to those who have been in Florida on or after June 29.
    5. Mask and Social-Distancing Requirements - Student Organizations
      The University plan outlines the campus-wide mask and social-distancing policy. Due to this policy, student organization activities will be impacted, although we are trying to allow as much freedom as safety and newly-limited room space allows. Your WSBA Vice President Desi Smith is working on a Student Organization Guide (Covid-19 Edition) and when we have some more detailed answers to your questions, she will release the Guide and it will be posted on the website. For now, we do think we know this much:
      1. No tabling will be allowed.
      2. Student organization meetings may still be scheduled at the law school, as long as the number of students does not exceed the new Covid maximum capacity of the room (posted outside every room) and students continue to wear masks and maintain the 6’ distance requirement. Meeting space will be more limited due to the new space demands for classes. Please make reservations through the scheduling calendar and continue to observe the relevant portions of the Scheduling Policy.
      3. NO outside speakers may be invited to the law building. In the event that a rare exception is made because of unexpected circumstances, this will only be through the approval of Dean Leisinger. Otherwise, all meetings and events with outside speakers are encouraged to be conducted through Zoom.
    6. Questions, Suggestions, Concerns.
      We hope this information helps a bit more with your planning. Please keep your questions and comments coming!
      1. Academic Concerns: academicaffairs@washburnlaw.edu
      2. All other Concerns: Jalen.lowry@washburn.edu
      3. To present questions, concerns, or suggestions to administration anonymously, please contact:
        1. WSBA President Victoria Toothaker, victoria.toothaker@washburn.edu
        2. WSBA Vice President Desiree Smith, desiree.smith1@washburn.edu
        3. WSBA Treasurer Paige Hungate, paige.hungate@washburn.edu
        4. WSBA KBA Representative Britani Potter, britani.potter@washburn.edu
        5. WSBA Rep-at-Large John Baker, john.baker@washburn.edu
        6. WSBA 1A Rep Angelique Brown, angelique.brown@washburn.edu
        7. WSBA 1B Rep Justin Griffin, justin.griffin@washburn.edu
        8. WSBA 2L Rep Lauren Kalp, lauren.kalp@washburn.edu
    7. We Want to Celebrate when We Have Good News!
      Want to end with some good news? Congratulations to our international students who have had some scary days due to the previously announced visa restrictions. We know it was nerve-wracking for you to fear that we would have to go to remote-only instruction and you would be subject to deportation in the middle of the semester. We are so happy that you have that fear lifted off your shoulders!

Best wishes for a continued safe summer,

Jalen Lowry