Message from Dean Treanor: Update on Fall 2020 Plan
Dear Returning Students,
I am writing to follow up on President DeGioia’s message today, in which he announced that the University will begin the semester with remote instruction only. As he explained, a number of factors led to this difficult decision, including the significant increase in COVID cases nationwide, the long delays in processing COVID tests at national and local labs, and the new requirement by the DC government of a two week quarantine period for all individuals arriving in the District from more than 25 states that have been designated COVID hotspots.
At the Law Center, all classes and co-curricular programs will be online for at least the first four weeks of the semester (with only limited exceptions). We will be re-evaluating regularly whether at some point after September 28 classes or other activities can be offered in a hybrid format, in which students and faculty may choose whether to be on campus or participate remotely. If we make a decision to resume classes in a hybrid format, we will give you at least three weeks notice so that you will have time to move to DC if you choose to participate on campus.
I know this will come as a disappointment to some of you, as you had shared with me and other faculty how much you were looking forward to resuming classes on campus in August. We are disappointed as well. This decision was difficult for me and the entire University leadership. It resulted from a long and careful process of evaluation, with extensive consultation with some of the nation’s top public health experts. Throughout it, the safety and health of our community has been front and center. We ultimately determined that without availability of reliable and speedy testing, and with the pandemic worsening across many parts of the country, it simply would not be prudent to move forward yet with the hybrid plan we had shared with you in the early summer.
While I wish we did not have a remote start for the Fall, I am pleased about our positioning to offer you a rich and exciting curricular experience as we approach the new school year. Given that many students and faculty were going to be participating remotely this Fall no matter whether we were fully online or hybrid, we undertook a systematic evaluation of how to enhance our remote teaching through Zoom. We reviewed carefully the feedback you and the faculty offered about their Spring experience, and the entire faculty has been spending this summer collecting and sharing best practices for remote instruction, with any eye toward how to implement it in creative and effective ways in doctrinal, seminar, and experiential courses. We also have made deep new investments in technology to facilitate remote or hybrid teaching. When you return remotely in August, I am confident you will find lively classrooms and engaged learning across the curriculum, whether we are fully remote for the semester or just for a few weeks.
I also am mindful that you are missing the vibrant on-campus experience we all treasure about Georgetown Law. I am missing it, too. Be assured, our student life and advising offices, as well as a number of faculty, are hard at work thinking about how we can best promote and preserve our sense of collective community and our active micro-communities. All of us are here to support you and the organizations you lead to ensure you stay connected and have important outlets as we navigate this pandemic together. As one example of this work, we are exploring whether there is a way, consistent with protocols to protect health and safety, to invite small groups of students to campus, socially distanced of course, for meetings with faculty or other activities.
In recognition of the impacts of the pandemic and the technology, transportation, and other costs to students in the pivot from a hybrid to a virtual model, the tuition for the Fall semester for all Georgetown Law students will be reduced by 5%. This one-time downward adjustment is designed to help with the financial challenges that many of you and your families are experiencing as a consequence of the pandemic — for example, to help with unexpected travel or housing costs, or to support technology or other investments you may be making to enhance the remote learning experience. As I have shared with you before, we remain keenly aware of the sacrifices you make financially to attend Georgetown Law. We will continue to deepen the excellence of our programs and services during and beyond the pandemic, and to prudently manage the University’s finances through this challenging time so that our programs remain as accessible as possible to students from as many backgrounds as possible.
We will be in touch regularly in the coming weeks and months as the plan for the Fall evolves. Your professors will be sharing directly and through their syllabi what to expect in your courses and clinics, and I and other deans will be advising you periodically about how best to take advantage of our various programs and services as we continue to operate remotely for a while longer. If we are able to offer opportunities that allow you to visit campus for events or studying or informal gatherings, we will let you know right away and will ensure there are measures to help keep you safe when you do. For students in groups affected in very specific ways by the pandemic and related governmental regulations – for example, our international students and our Gewirz residents – you will continue to hear regularly from staff who are enhancing those services to meet your needs and who will help support you through the months ahead.
Meanwhile, know that I and the entire staff and faculty are here for you during this very challenging period. We look forward to being back on campus together as soon as we safely can.
My very best wishes to you and your loved ones for good health and a productive, peaceful close of summer.
William M. Treanor
Dean and Executive Vice President
Paul Regis Dean Leadership Chair
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