Law schools are frantically reversing course on fall plans to reopen campus as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the country.
At least a sixth of all ABA-accredited law schools plan to be fully online in the fall now, according to a report by Law.com. On Sunday, the US topped 5 million cases of coronavirus, according to CNN.
At Georgetown Law, initial plans to have socially distant in-person classes were quickly thrown out the window as Georgetown’s president recently announced that the entire university would start the fall semester remotely due to rising COVID-19 cases.
In an interview with Law.com, Law Dean William Treanor says he remains hopeful that some in-person classes can resume in late semester. However, that’s dependent on how the COVID-19 case count stands.
“People were aware there was some fluidity, and conditions could change,” Treanor tells Law.com. “If we had gone online for the whole semester early, that would have made the planning process easier. But we also know that students would like to be on campus. We started with the hope that it would be possible at the start of the semester, and we’re preserving that option.”
To compensate students for the lack of in-person classroom time, the university has offered to lower tuition by 5%.
At Northern Illinois University College of Law, similar plans to hold in-person classes were quickly reversed as the school announced revised plans to be fully online in the fall.
“I know this is a change from our prior decision to hold some classes in person under a hybrid model,” Law Dean Cassandra Hill writes in an email to students. “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.”
In total, at least 32 law schools including Harvard Law and the University of California system have announced plans to be entirely online in the fall.