Dear Returning Students,

We hope that you are having a meaningful summer and wish you and your loved ones good health.

With an upcoming election, a pandemic, and important and overdue national conversations about racism, this is a challenging and momentous time to be in law school. (It is my personal goal to spare you the overused adjectives “strange” and “unprecedented,” although they are also apt.) Your skills and talents are more important than ever for the future of America and the promotion of justice.

The following is our best current information regarding the academic calendar, safety measures, classes, exams, etc. Because events can overtake us, particularly if there is a virus surge, we have to issue the caveat that some of this information could change. But we know that you are eager for updates to help you make important decisions about the fall semester, so we are aiming for swift and transparent communication, sharing information as it becomes available. We are finalizing an updated course grid and academic calendar and it will be sent to you as soon as it’s completed.

You will also be receiving a weekly Friday email from the university about plans for reopening this fall. We encourage you to read these emails carefully, but please note that any contradictory information (e.g., academic calendar, first day of classes, tuition, etc.) should be resolved in favor of what you receive from the Law School.

The Law School faculty, staff, and administration have been working hard on logistics and pedagogy to make the fall semester the best academic and personal experience possible for our students. We sincerely appreciated the helpful student responses to our survey about online teaching and are using the information you provided to prepare our faculty for the year ahead. Inevitably, there will be glitches, but we know we can count on your patience, flexibility, and goodwill, as you can count on ours.

In planning for next year, we are adhering to strict limitations from the university regarding the academic calendar, physical distancing, masks, and other health requirements. The limitations on how many people can be in a room have required us to put our larger classes online. Our largest classrooms, which hold around 140 students, now can accommodate only around 40, and sometimes fewer. Classes will end up being a mix of in-person and online experiences, and we are committed to using the formats available to their best advantage. “Virtual” doesn’t have to mean “impersonal,” and preserving physical distancing will not prevent the faculty from continuing to mentor and foster relationships with you, our valued students.

On Monday, June 22, at 5:00 p.m., Dean Parrish will conduct another Town Hall to report to you about developments, answer questions, and address concerns. The Zoom address is linked here. The Meeting ID is 965 9892 9943 (Password: 726935).

Below are details about a number of specific topics related to our fall semester that we thought you would appreciate in advance of the meeting:

LAW SCHOOL FALL CALENDAR
Monday, August 17: Classes begin
Friday, November 13: Law school classes end
Tuesday, November 24: All in-person exams conclude
Monday, November 30 to Friday, December 11: Papers, take-homes and on-line exams are due
Please note: There is no Labor Day holiday or fall break this year. Classes will meet on September 7 and October 12-16.

HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES
The university and the Law School will provide more detailed guidance as we approach the fall semester. But many of the requirements have been established, including:
  • Face Masks: All students must wear a mask anytime they are in a building at IU, except for when they are eating. Students will be issued masks, but please bring at least one with you. This non-negotiable, campus-wide policy applies to all areas of Indiana University. The face-mask policy also applies to all faculty and staff, except when they are alone in their own offices.
  • Social Distancing: Inside the building, people should maintain a six-foot distance. Classrooms and the Law Library will be configured to provide such physical distance. Please be self-aware of your location in relation to others and facilitate the six-foot distance.
  • Self-Monitoring: All members of our community must monitor their health and stay home if they are sick.
  • Cleaning: Public areas will be sanitized every day by our maintenance staff. Students will be asked to sanitize their areas in the classrooms and the Law Library upon arrival and departure. Hand sanitizer will be readily available.
  • Traffic Flow: We are awaiting final instructions from the university, but we currently plan to configure the building to provide traffic flow and avoid close interactions:
    • Hallways will be divided and marked to assist with traffic flow;
    • Stairwells will be designated as either up or down;
    • Elevators will be limited to one person and should be used only by people whose health or disability require it.
We strongly encourage students to limit their travel outside of Bloomington to what is absolutely necessary. International travel is strongly discouraged. If you do travel outside the United States, university policy requires you to quarantine for two weeks upon return, and you will not be permitted on any part of the IU Campus.

Regarding off-campus conduct, please be smart and avoid conduct that will risk infection. We encourage you to don a mask and maintain a six-foot physical distance as a regular practice wherever you go. We urge you to follow the CDC guidelines, which currently suggest proximity and physical contact only with people in the same household. Please keep yourself and our community safe.
 
MIX OF ONLINE AND IN-PERSON CLASSES
Thanks to everyone who filled out the survey regarding online teaching. We learned a lot about your experiences and took it to heart.

The Law School will provide a mix of online and in-person course options for all students. Space constraints, the need to limit density in the building, and the health needs of faculty required us to shift a significant portion of our curriculum to fully online formats. We understand that this is not the preferred format for some of our students. However, health and safety rules take precedence, and the Law School must follow the requirements set forth by the university.

We are learning from best practices and using all our creativity to make online learning engaging and effective. Unlike last spring, where the shift to online was sudden and unanticipated, faculty teaching online are preparing this summer and are adapting to the online environment. We have taken steps to ensure faculty connectivity, and our faculty are working on maximizing the benefits of Zoom and Canvas.

A small number of online courses (notably, Advanced Legal Research and Appellate Advocacy) will be delivered purely asynchronously. That means that the class will not meet as a group. You can watch them individually anytime and do the assignments at your convenience; these courses will use other methods, including online discussion boards, formative assessments, small-group Zoom meetings, and Zoom-based office hours to provide students the opportunity to engage with the professor and other students in the class. Wills and Trusts will be delivered primarily asynchronously, with a one-hour group meeting once a week in the early evening.

The majority of online courses will be predominantly synchronous (although they may also incorporate asynchronous material) and are thus scheduled at set days and times. Students are expected to attend all synchronous Zoom classes at the scheduled time. Missing a synchronous class will be considered an absence. That said, the classes will be recorded and available for later viewing if, for an unanticipated reason, synchronous attendance is not possible. We understand that under the very difficult circumstances of a pandemic you may have to miss class occasionally, and we will seek to accommodate unexpected student needs if you alert us to the problem.

In-person classes are designed with the expectation that students will be physically present in the classroom. However, all in-person classes will also be available in real time remotely to students who are taking the course but are unable to attend in-person classes. This accommodation is primarily designed to support students who need sudden, short-term accommodations as a result of the pandemic. Students who are interested in taking an in-person class remotely for the entire semester must talk with the Dean of Students before registering for the class. Although professors will take steps to facilitate (and expect) participation from on-line students, such participation may take a different form from what is required of in-person students.

We understand that students in times zones 8-13 hours away from Bloomington may have serious challenges in attending classes scheduled for the afternoon. If you find yourself in this situation, please let the Office of Student Affairs know as soon as possible, so that we can set up a time to talk to offer academic advising.

UPDATED COURSE INFORMATION
The course grid should be available in early July. If you are currently in a class, your spot is reserved if you still want it.

We are still finalizing the fall course schedule. The following is what we know about the schedule at this point:
  • Large Classes: All classes larger than 35 students will be conducted online. In addition to Appellate Advocacy, Advanced Legal Research, and Wills and Trusts (discussed above), these courses include: Income Tax, Civil Procedure II, Crim Pro, Investigation, Conflicts of Law, Corporations, and Evidence. These large synchronous courses will be held in the early part of the day, ending by 1:00 pm, with the exception of Evidence, which will be held from 4:45-6:00 p.m.
  • Seminars: All seminars will be held on Thursdays either in the morning (approximately 10:00 a.m.-noon) or in the afternoon (approximately 1:00-3:00 p.m.). Almost all seminars will be taught online. Space limitations made this necessary (the seminar rooms are too small given six-foot distances and university space utilization limits).
  • Smaller Classes: Smaller lecture-style 3-credit courses will be offered in either online or in-person formats. We have tried to provide an array of courses in both formats.
  • Clinics: The directors of each of the Law School’s clinics are in the process of finalizing their fall semester plans for their clinics. We will share more information with you as soon as we can.
  • Skills and Simulation Courses: Many of our skills courses are taught by adjunct faculty who are practicing lawyers, judges, or professors in other IU schools. We are now finalizing the schedule for these classes and will share more information with you on these classes as soon as possible.
  • Externships: Externships and the Washington, DC Public Interest Program will still be permitted. However, arrangements for these opportunities depend on the employer. We expect that some employers will be conducting in-person work and others will require students to complete their work remotely.
Generally, online courses will occur in the mornings on M-W (ending by 1:00 p.m.), and in-person courses will meet in the afternoons (beginning at 1:40). For students taking a mix of online and in-person classes, our expectation is that the time between the end of online classes and the start of in-person classes will enable you sufficient opportunity to travel from home to the Law School. Should that prove difficult for some students, we plan to reserve spaces in the law school where you can connect with online classes.

Opportunity to Drop and Add Courses
You have already registered for your fall semester classes, and you will not be dropped from any class for which you are already confirmed. We recognize that many of you may want or need to alter your course schedule with drop/adds because of changes in your life and changes in the schedule. Once you have had the opportunity to review the course schedule, revised course descriptions, and the new exam schedule, we will open an initial drop/add period as follows:

July 27-28 – 3L Drop/Add
July 29-30 – 2L Drop/Add

You will also have the opportunity to drop and add courses in August, during the initial week of classes. Dean Orenstein, Director Beck, and Alexis Lanham will happily set up appointments to discuss your revised schedule.

EXAMS
  • Many of the in-person classes will hold traditional in-person exams. All in-person exams must be completed before Thanksgiving.
  • Papers for in-person and online courses, take-homes, and online exams for online courses will be scheduled from Monday, November 30 through Friday, December 11.
SPRING SEMESTER COURSES AND SCHEDULE
  • Our spring semester is controlled by university scheduling that prohibits in-class learning until the first week in February.
  • The Law School will be offering a number of fully online, intensive 4-week, 3-credit courses from January 4 to January 29. Online final assessments will transpire in the first week of February. We are in the process of building the offerings for this session and the offerings currently include: Evidence (Orenstein), Criminal Procedure-Trial (Scott), Corporations (Henderson), Sales (Hughes), and Advanced Legal Research (TBD). We strongly recommend that you take advantage of this January session to reduce your course load for the remainder of the spring semester, which will be condensed into 11 weeks.
  • The spring semester will continue on February 8. All classes beginning on February 8 will be condensed from our normal 13-week schedule to 11 weeks, which means longer class hours per week. Despite the shorter session, all courses will continue to include the same number of class hours per credit.
  • The course schedule for the spring semester is still being revised. We will provide updates as soon as we can.
DAILY LIFE
We are working hard to maintain our precious sense of community. Student organizations will be vital in this regard. The Office of Student Affairs is planning academic support and health and wellness programing.

We know that this summer has been rough for many students. Director Beck and I are available over Zoom and phone. Please email us to set up an appointment if you would like to talk. CAPS (812-855-8900) and JLAP (317-833-0307) are also available to you now and throughout the academic year.

During the fall, CSO and OSA will operate by appointment only. We will be available for Zoom meetings and phone calls and look forward to talking to you.

Here is some other useful information about the fall semester:
  • Printers: The Library will maintain printers and scanners for your use at a safe physical distance.
  • Lockers: We are still working on the issue of lockers. Because of the challenges of maintaining physical distance, we cannot use all of them. We are considering a system where people with special needs can receive lockers, and the rest of the upper-class students would participate in a lottery. 1L students will not be eligible for lockers, in part because their course schedule requires them to carry fewer books at a time.
  • Study and Lounge Spaces: There will be designated spaces in the library and in some other areas for students to work in between classes. As always, our wonderful library permits students to eat and drink there. Library carrels will be assigned primarily to 1L students who will, generally, not have lockers.
  • Refrigerators and Microwaves: Unfortunately, access to the student refrigerators and microwaves is unavailable during the pandemic. If you need to refrigerate medication or otherwise have special needs, let Dean Orenstein know and we will find an accommodation.
  • Buses: The buses will be running but is unclear right now, because of the need for physical distancing, how helpful or reliable they will be.
  • Technology: Please make sure you have reliable Wi-Fi at home or at your regular place of study for class participation outside the Law School. You will need a camera for Zoom. If it is within your budget and you find it convenient, you might consider adding a second monitor or external speakers.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Thanks also for your continued engagement and patience as we complete the work necessary to deliver as interesting, meaningful, and low-stress semester as possible,

As mentioned above, Dean Parrish will conduct another Town Hall meeting on Monday. The Zoom address is linked here. The Meeting ID is 965 9892 9943 (Password: 726935). Hope to see you there!

Sincerely,

Aviva Orenstein
Dean for Students

cc:  Law School Faculty and Staff
Maurer School of Law
Baier Hall, 211 South Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405-7001