Photograph: Students in a classroom.

August 19, 2020 Update From Dean Lowry

Dear Law Students,

We know that many of you have been waiting for a final answer regarding whether you are allowed to wear gaiter masks (also called neck fleeces) at the law school, as they first appeared to be allowed by the university, and then not, and then, yesterday afternoon, allowed if two-ply. I know these inconsistent messages are maddening, but they are inevitable as everyone keeps finding out new things about COVID.

Because we have the authority to be more cautious (but not less cautious) than the university in our law school policy, we have decided to not allow gaiters and some other types of masks that are now indicated to be fairly ineffective or worse than ineffective. The recent research at Duke has indicated that the stretchy type of fabric used in some masks and in gaiters may actually be worse than no mask at all, because they act as a screen that breaks up particles into smaller pieces that allow them to hang in the air longer. See

This is very disappointing to those of you who have already bought gaiters or other types of prohibited masks, I know. We’ve done the same thing, buying them both personally and as a school, before we knew the latest research. But our highest priority is keeping you, faculty, and staff protected and able to be at the law school this semester in person.

So please study carefully the mask policy for the law school and try to bring at least two acceptable masks with you. We will have a limited supply of disposable masks for those of you who are not able to make such a quick adjustment in your plans at this short notice.

You'll notice that the mask policy also lays out the Honor Code repercussions for violating the policy. I do not expect at all that any of you will purposefully violate the policy, but everyone needs to have fair warning of worst-case scenarios. I have been incredibly impressed with how the entering 1Ls immediately adjusted to the no-gaiter ban, which I imposed on them at the last minute in case the policy went into effect during their First Week. I know that all of you coming in next week will do the same, and I know and appreciate so much how patient and adaptable you have been through all the COVID chaos.

It will be a learning experience for all of us next week. There will be some inconsistencies and ironies, with six-feet distancing unable to be attained in the restrooms at all times, with people forgetting how far six feet is, and guaranteed mishaps and trials, but I trust that we will all continue to treat each other with grace.

Best always,

Jalen Lowry