The law school made the announcement last Wednesday – making it the first top law school to remain online only this upcoming semester, Law.com reports.
“This is not the announcement we’d hoped to make,” Dean John Manning writes in a letter to students. “But our first priority is, and must continue to be, the health and safety of our community, and we cannot reliably conclude at this time that we can safely provide an effective on-campus program this fall.”
Harvard officials say the decision to remain online only was made in order to allow students to plan accordingly for the upcoming semester.
“We recognize that the public health situation may evolve between now and the end of August, and we dearly hope, as everyone does, that scientific developments with respect to COVID-19 will allow greater in-person activity, here and elsewhere, very soon,” Manning says. “We also recognize, however, that you must be able to make appropriate plans for the coming semester and year, and that we owe it to you to communicate a decision sufficiently far in advance to enable you to do so.”
Some of those planning options include allowing students to take a leave of absence and giving admitted students the option to defer their start date. Incoming J.D. and LL.M. students will have until June 19 to defer, according to Law.com.
WHAT FALL WILL LOOK LIKE
While law students are already taking classes online amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Harvard officials say they’re working to make sure the upcoming semester runs smoothly.
“The Harvard Law School faculty is already hard at work adapting their teaching plans in order to offer the best online courses and clinics possible,” Manning says. “In order to be prepared in the event it proved necessary again to teach and learn online, we have been busy, in recent weeks, studying and absorbing the latest research about how students best learn online and identifying the range of tools, techniques, and approaches that create excellent, engaging online courses.”