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Coronavirus: Get complete details about the university's response to COVID-19.

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School of Law Coronavirus Policies and Procedures

The University of South Carolina School of Law is prepared to respond effectively to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Updates to policies and procedures specific to the School of Law will be found here.

University-wide communications

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Learn about how the university is changing to mitigate the effects of the novel coronavirus and what you can do to help.


School of Law-specific information

 
July 30, 2020 Student Town Hall

Watch the video of the town hall meeting.
Read the transcript [PDF] of the town hall meeting.

 
Returning to Work

The School of Law is following the university's Return to Work Plan, and will be opening in the following phases:

  • Phase 1: Beginning June 1
  • Phase 2: Beginning June 22
  • Phase 3: Beginning July 14
  • Phase 4: Beginning August 3

Employees are encouraged to review the Guidelines for Returning to the Workplace before returning to the School of Law.

Access to School of Law Building

The School of Law will only be open to employees who are being phased back to work on the above schedule.  Access to these employees will be: 7:30 am -6:30 pm Monday – Fridaythrough August 3, 2020. 

Employees MUST have their Carolina Card with them to gain entry.

The building will continue to be closed to students and the public until at least August 3, 2020.

Testing

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) recommends that employees who have been ill not come to work until 7 days have passed since their symptoms began AND they are free of fever (100.4°F [37.8°C] or less using an oral thermometer) or signs of fever for 3 days without the use of fever-reducing medicines and their other symptoms have improved. Employees who are exhibiting symptoms are encouraged to contact the University Health Services at 803-576-8511.

Employees are also strongly encouraged to take advantage of the COVID-19 testing opportunities offered by the University.

Daily Health Screenings

The University of South Carolina is requiring all on-campus employees (and visitors) to participate in daily health screenings in order to mitigate the risk of any outbreak or disease transmission on-campus.

Electronic Form

The School of Law will be utilizing the survey tool Qualtrics to administer the required electronic daily screening form to reduce the potential risk of exposure associated with the physical interchange of paper documents. The survey responses will be made available to supervisors by accessing a secured file.

Paper Form

Those uncomfortable submitting the electronic form may print out and complete the required daily wellness form [pdf] and send it directly to their supervisor (staff) or to Sonya Paulk (faculty).   


 

Information from previous updates has been compiled below:

Who to Contact

Technology: Please email lawhelp@law.sc.edu with any issues related to technology. All members of Academic Technology are regularly monitoring the Law Help inbox in order to collaboratively address issues that arise during this time.

Academic issues or registration: Please reach out to Associate Dean Eboni Nelson with academic or registration issues.

Student Affairs or Career Services: Please reach out to Associate Dean Susan Palmer with issues related to student affairs or career services.

Counseling needs:

Resources

Note: Please use Safari, Google Chrome or Firefox when connecting with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. Do not use Microsoft Edge.

Academics

Exams
Exams will be remotely administered through TWEN and Examplify. Students should find a quiet place where they can take exams uninterrupted. The exam schedule will likely remain the same as previously scheduled, unless directed by the School of Law. There may be some slight adjustments made to accommodate a remote setting, but the process will remain largely the same.

Grading

[update: April 6, 2020]  The School of Law faculty voted to grade all courses and independent research papers using a pass/fail grading system for the Spring 2020 semester.  All work that would have earned a letter grade of D or above for this semester will be graded as a Pass.  Work that would have received an F under the letter grade system will still receive a grade of Fail.

Hours earned in any course in which a student receives a grade of Pass this semester will count toward the graduation requirement of 90 hours.  The normal restriction on the number of pass/fail hours that a student may count toward the graduation requirement of 90 hours has been waived to accommodate the hours earned this semester (in addition to the usual number of pass/fail hours that a student may earn).  For the several courses that are required for graduation and in which a student must earn a grade of C or above in order to graduate, the professor will certify to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs whether work receiving a passing grade also fulfilled the graduation requirement.

Read Dean Wilcox's full letter to students below (under Previous Updates, then look for the April 6, 2020 Memo to Students).

Office Hours
Faculty will hold weekly electronic office hours. Reach out to faculty members directly for more information on the time and format in which their office hours will be held.

Academic Assistance & Bar Prep
Alex Ruskell will continue offering academic assistance through email and telephone, as well as through videos and weekly practice questions posted on TWEN. Alex Ruskell will still be available to look over outlines via email. Tutors will also provide assistance with practice questions and will hold office hours. Please email Alex Ruskell directly with any questions regarding academic assistance and bar prep.

Graduation Gala & Ceremony

The School of Law graduation gala and commencement ceremonies previously scheduled for May 7 & 8 are postponed

Bar Exam
The School of Law has not received communication regarding changes related to the summer Bar Exam. Please continue to check with South Carolina Supreme Courts for information regarding the 2020 Bar Exam.

 

Student Affairs

  • Students should visit the University of South Carolina Official Bookstore to obtain return labels for casebook rentals.
  • Student Organizations:  If you need to meet with executive board members or organization members, students can use Microsoft Teams. If asked for an authorizer, enter "Gary Moore" to continue.

Career Services

Career Services is still available to assist students with employment-related needs through email, telephone, and Symplicity. The Career Services team is available to chat through Symplicity from 1-3pm, Monday-Friday. Students can request counseling appointments through Symplicity as well – please include a telephone number where you can be reached. The Career Services department encourages students to continue reaching out to potential employers and pursuing networking opportunities.

Questions?

Submit your questions through our web form.

 

Previous communications:

Dear Class of 2020,
 
On Tuesday you received the University's notification that this Spring's commencement ceremonies, originally postponed until August due to COVID-19, will now be conducted virtually in August on the advice of health and safety experts.  I certainly understand your disappointment that you will not have a live ceremony at which to celebrate this summer, but I can assure you that the university considered multiple options to provide an in-person ceremony, especially given your known desire as a class  to have a live ceremony.  Even with the very best in-person option, however, because of social distancing requirements, there would have been no individual hooding.  Ultimately,  after careful consideration and consultation with heath officers and cleaning crews, even that option proved untenable because of health concerns.   The decision to move to a virtual format was made not only to protect your health, but to protect the health of the community.
 
We have heard your suggestions of other alternatives, such as a December commencement or a May 2021 Commencement.  Even the December 2020 commencement may well be virtual given current health projections, but more importantly I ask that you understand that Commencements are not merely law school events.  They are university events run by the Board of Trustees, and any allowance made for law students to attend a later ceremony would likely have to be extended to all other graduates, not only on the Columbia campus, but across the university system.  While I think it is possible that the university might eventually consider a larger May 2021 event, that decision would require significant logistical study, with planning for much larger ceremonies than have ever been conducted before across the University system.
 
You will soon receive more information about the August virtual ceremony, including details about the graduation ceremony and about how you can provide your photo for the event.  Also, Heather Beatty is looking into refunds for those who may have ordered regalia.   
 
I understand that August will not and cannot be the same as a beautiful May morning on the Horseshoe, but we all know that many things are very different than a few months ago.  What has not changed is that those of you who have completed your studies have earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina, and you are prepared to enter into the professional workplace.  That is an accomplishment to be celebrated, even in the absence of a live hooding.
 
Best wishes,
Rob Wilcox

Maymester classes

New Summer School Offerings

  • The Law School has partnered with iLaw to offer three new 3-credit online summer school courses. They are as follows: Wills, Trusts, and Estates; Secured Transactions; and Conflict of Laws. These asynchronous (prerecorded lectures) courses are taught by prominent law professors at other law schools who are experts in their field. Any questions can be directed to support@lawstudentonline.com.
  • The courses are available now on Self Service Carolina for you to register.

Law School Expectations

  • All Maymester and summer courses will be delivered online. All courses except Advanced Legal Writing Online – Civil Litigation Drafting, WTE, Secured Transactions, and Conflict of Laws will be delivered using synchronous (live virtual class meetings) and asynchronous (prerecorded lectures) methods. Synchronous meetings will take place during the courses’ currently scheduled time. Therefore, students are expected to be available to attend synchronous live virtual class meetings during their currently scheduled time.
  • Plans regarding whether externship field placements will be on-site or remote are still being finalized. For information or questions, please contact Mrs. Stephanie Nye or Professor Jackie Cherry.
  • The Attendance Policy will apply to all courses. Failure to participate in synchronous class meetings, to completely watch recorded lectures, and to fulfill attendance check-in requirements as determined by your professor will count as an absence.
  • Letter grading rather than pass/fail will apply to all courses.
  • Exams will be administered remotely. Students taking in-class timed exams will have an extra hour to work on and upload their exam answer.

Course Textbooks

  • Due to COVID-19, the law school bookstore is closed and will not be stocking casebooks for Maymester or summer courses. Accordingly, you will need to make alternate arrangements to purchase/rent your casebooks. Associate Dean Colin Miller is coordinating with Maymester/summer faculty to ensure that casebook information is posted on the First Readings website as soon as possible. If casebook information for your class has not been posted for your Maymester/summer courses as the first day of class approaches, please contact Associate Dean Miller for further information.

First Day Assignments

  • First day assignments, if any, will be posted on the Law School’s homepage and First Readings website.

Drop/Add Deadlines

  • Students will have the option to drop/add Maymester courses until May 12; Advanced Legal Writing Online until May 13; and summer courses until June 5. Because these are extended deadlines from what the University requires, students who wish to drop a course on these dates must contact the Registrar Office for adjustments to their schedules to prevent receiving a “W” grade for the course. Students who wish to drop a course before these dates may do so through Self Service Carolina. Please be mindful that schedule adjustments could have financial implications if students are receiving financial aid.

Additional Maymester and summer school information can be found on the Registrar website here:https://www.sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/law/internal/department/registrar/registration_information/.

Join by Webex
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Join by video system
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Join by phone
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Dear Students,

As many, if not all of you, are aware, the School of Law faculty voted last week to grade all courses and independent research papers using a pass/fail grading system for the Spring 2020 semester.  All work that would have earned a letter grade of D or above for this semester will be graded as a Pass.  Work that would have received an F under the letter grade system will still receive a grade of Fail.

Hours earned in any course in which a student receives a grade of Pass this semester will count toward the graduation requirement of 90 hours.  The normal restriction on the number of pass/fail hours that a student may count toward the graduation requirement of 90 hours has been waived to accommodate the hours earned this semester (in addition to the usual number of pass/fail hours that a student may earn).  For the several courses that are required for graduation and in which a student must earn a grade of C or above in order to graduate, the professor will certify to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs whether work receiving a passing grade also fulfilled the graduation requirement.

The currently recommended practices for health safety affect all of us, but they do not affect all of us equally in terms of being able to concentrate on law school performance.  Especially for students who are caring for others in a small apartment or house, the circumstances will make it very difficult to study for exams or take exams at home.  Others have limited technology available at home, which affects their ability to work as effectively as others.  These difficulties apply to students across class ranks.  If no changes had been made, it is likely that a significant number of students would have been academically prejudiced for reasons entirely unrelated to their skill or knowledge.

The faculty, therefore, considered a variety of options and received significant input from many, many students regarding the perceived strengths and weaknesses of each.  Ultimately, a mandatory pass/fail system was deemed by the faculty to be the best option to ensure that students could continue to progress on time toward graduation, with the least negative impact.  Optional pass/fail systems were considered, as were exemptions of certain courses from the mandatory pass/fail system.  Each of those options had strong champions urging their adoption. After hours of discussion, however, the faculty decided that the significant negative consequences of each option outweighed the benefits of the option and undermined the purpose of the change to pass/fail grading for the semester.  Many other law schools have reached the same conclusion.

Under the system adopted, students will continue to be able to receive a class rank calculated on similar numbers of graded hours.  We anticipate also that faculty may continue to award a CALI recognition to the top student in a class, even with the pass/fail system in place.  Students receiving a grade of Pass will not have to explain to employers why they did not elect a letter grade.  Nor will a few students be able to increase their GPA this semester, because of their good fortune to been enrolled in certain courses, while others do not receive an opportunity to improve their GPA.

The School of Law will make every effort to ensure that prospective employers with whom we have contact understand that third-year students, in particular, typically improve their GPAs in their final semester.  We will urge employers to be flexible in applying their traditional GPA cut-offs when making interviewing decisions for these students

We received input from literally hundreds of students, and we know that some will feel an impact of this decision that disappoints them.  The faculty recognized those concerns, but concluded, ultimately, that it was best for the school and the student body as a whole to follow the approach I have described.

Robert M. Wilcox
Dean
University of South Carolina School of Law

COVID-19 Legal Forum

The faculty and staff of South Carolina Law hosted an open forum on Thursday, April 2 to pose and in some cases answer legal questions related to COVID-19. View the recording here.

Faculty Grading Teleconference

The faculty held a special called teleconference meeting on Tuesday, March 31 for the purpose of considering and taking action on the grading policy during the Spring 2020 semester and issues related to academic probation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The meeting was open to the public, including students.

Watch the video of the Dean's Town Hall Meeting held on March 20, 2020.

From: Gary Moore
To: School of Law Students
Date: Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 5:46 PM
Subject:  Preparing for Online/Distance Education Learning Courses for Next Week

Good Afternoon, Everyone,

I want to thank those law students who attended/participated in one of our three Blackboard Collaborate Training Sessions.  If you weren't able to attend, you can review the virtual tools presentation for students [pdf].

In preparation for online/distance ed learning for your classes next week, students should do the following;

Students should have a working laptop or desktop computer with webcam and microphone for use with technology apps such as Blackboard Collaborate, Panopto, Webex and Microsoft Teams.

If you have not previously logged into Panopto, you must do so as soon as possible.  You will need to login to the School of Law Panopto site - https://southcarolinalaw.hosted.panopto.com. When you get to the School of Law Panopto site, login via SAML with your USC network ID and password.  Until you do this, you will not be able to access class materials provided through Panopto.   

Please note that only some faculty have recorded all their classes so far this semester for all their students, such as Professor Samuels.  If you don’t see your class folder for any reason, please email lawhelp@law.sc.edu and please note which faculty member’s class folder you cannot see on Panopto.  Again, you may not see any recordings because your faculty member has either not recorded classes in Panopto yet or only recorded classes for students with special accommodation requests.

Several classes will be using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra for online classes.  Please check to make sure you have access to Blackboard Collaborate for your course by performing the following steps;

    1. Go to http://blackboard.sc.edu.  Click on Login and login with your USC network ID and password.
    2. Click on Courses.  You will then see a window with a list of courses you can access.  Click on any of the classes for your Spring 2020 class.
    3. Click on Tools, then click on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
    4. You can go into the course room and test out the features.
    5. Attached are the slides from today’s Blackboard Collaborate Ultra training sessions.  You can also view the recordings by following step 3a, selecting Blackboard course DL Gary Moore Test Course (DL-GMOORE-TEST),  then click on Tools, then click on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.  Click on the  on the top left hand side of the screen and then click on Recordings.   You will see the three presentation recordings from today.

For those of you who have faculty using Webex video/audio conference platform, Webex has the ability for real-time Lecture for up to 200 participants and real-time discussion.  You can share your computer screen, allow others to present, has an audio only phone in option and the sessions will be recorded.   Students can join a Webex session via a URL link.  Students can also download the Webex Software for Mac or PC  from the Webex downloads site.  Students can also get support on Webex via their Webex help site.

If you have not already, students should download Microsoft teams from the Office365 Portal.  This is a great way to chat, share documents, have video conversations and more with your fellow students, as well as with faculty and staff.

During our Blackboard Collaborate Ultra student test sessions, we came to learn that any students who used Microsoft Edge could not hear any audio during the sessions.  Once they switched to either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, they were able to hear audio just fine.   

Windows users - please use Chrome or Firefox when connecting with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.  Apple users – Safari, Chrome or Firefox are fine to use.

 If you have any questions, please let me know.  Stay healthy and safe.

Warm Regards,

Dean Moore
__
Gary Moore
Assistant Dean for Academic Technology

The law school has several options to conduct class virtually. The following technologies will help accommodate the following:

  • Synchronous and asynchronous lecture delivery with optional discussion element.
  • Small group collaboration and discussion
  • Observation of Class Assignments

Learn more about your virtual classroom options.

From: Dean Rob Wilcox
To: School of Law Faculty and Staff
Date: Sunday, March 16, 2020 at 1:14 PM
Subject:  RE: High Priority Information re Law School Closing

A reminder that our current plan is to close the building at 5:00 pm.  It will remain locked (meaning swipe cards will be deactivated) until the University reopens or until we receive additional guidance from  the University regarding facility usage.  You should plan accordingly and remove any thing from your office today that you may need over the next several weeks.

We do have a request in to allow faculty into the building at brief periods to provide classes from a podium, but we have not yet received a response.

We will still have a faculty meeting tomorrow at 3:20 pm by teleconference.

Robert M. Wilcox
Dean
University of South Carolina School of Law

From: Dean Rob Wilcox
To: School of Law Faculty and Staff
Date: Sunday, March 15, 2020 at 9:39 PM
Subject: Important Message from Dean Wilcox re: COVID-19 response
Importance: High

Dear Students,

In the rapidly changing environment of COVID19 response, we have received word tonight that the University will continue to offer classes on-line beginning March 23, but the facilities will be closed to faculty, staff, and students until March 31.  This is a significant change and will require that you retrieve any belongings from the building that you may need for the duration of the closure, using the procedure set out below -- with the expectation that you will then not be able to re-enter the building until the University reopens.  Also, please keep in mind that this a fluid situation, and additional university guidance tomorrow or over the next several days could cause a further change in policy.

The Library is now closed for the duration.

Either late Monday or Tuesday you will be notified of a time on either Wednesday or Thursday of this week during which you and about 30 other students may re-enter the building for 20 minutes to retrieve anything you need from your locker or office.

If you cannot be here those days, we will schedule a make-up time Monday of next week so that you can retrieve course materials you will need, but we encourage to come this week if at all possible.

The building will be open at least for the first part of the day Monday.  We discourage students other than law review or competition teams from coming to the building on Monday to retrieve items, but if you cannot make it here later in the week, you may do so.  However, please observe separation recommendations and do not come in if you are sick or in a high-risk group.  Students may not stay in the building to work tomorrow.

If you are away from Columbia and cannot return at all for class materials, West Publishing is making e-books available to students at schools such as ours on a complimentary basis through June 1st. They require that students call West Academic at (877) 888-1330 to speak with a customer service representative for help getting the eBooks.

After Monday, the building will be locked except during the time you are scheduled to enter.

We understand these changes may cause inconvenience for some, but I ask everyone to continue the great spirit of cooperation shown thus far.  We will be in touch with more info as soon as we have it.

Robert M. Wilcox
Dean
University of South Carolina School of Law

From: Dean Rob Wilcox
To: School of Law Faculty and Staff
Date: Sunday, March 15, 2020 at 9:18 PM
Subject: High Priority Information re Law School Closing

Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

In the rapidly changing environment of COVID19 response, we have received word tonight that the University will continue to offer classes on-line beginning March 23, but the facilities will be closed to faculty, staff, and students until March 31.  This is a significant change and will require that you act Monday to retrieve any belongings from the building that you may need for the duration of the closure -- with the expectation that after tomorrow, you will not be able to re-enter the building.  We do not yet know whether we will be able to allow faculty into the building to teach.  Also, please keep in mind that this a fluid situation, and additional university guidance tomorrow or over the next several days could cause a further change in policy.

The Library is now closed for the duration.

Faculty and staff may report Monday to retrieve any items they may need to conduct business, including distance classes, until we reopen.

IT staff needs to report as essential employees at this stage.  Admissions staff will meet briefly at 8:30 to make plans for remote working.

Staff (other than IT and admissions) who do not need to retrieve any items should not report beginning Monday, until the closure ends.

Anyone in a high risk group (including IT staff) should not report.  They should notify their supervisor if they need anything retrieved for them tomorrow.

 Once staff has retrieved their belongings, they should notify their supervisor and then leave.  Staff who do not come in should notify their supervisor that they will not need to retrieve items.  Supervisors should provide Liz with the names of any staff who have not checked in by the end of Monday.

 Faculty should do the same, notifying Colin.

 Faculty may access remotely the instructional training scheduled for Monday at 10 am.

 After Monday, the building will be locked to all but those who are told they are essential.

 We understand these changes may cause inconvenience for some, but I ask everyone to continue the great spirit of cooperation shown thus far.  We will be in touch with more info as soon as we have it.

Robert M. Wilcox
Dean
University of South Carolina School of Law

From: Dean Rob Wilcox
To: School of Law students
Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2020 1:28 p.m.
Subject: COVID-19 operational changes

Dear Students,

As you may be aware, the University has cancelled all classes and university activities next week.  Beginning March 22 until April 3, no face-to-face instruction will be allowed and, during those two weeks, all classes must be offered on-line. The exact wording of the University announcement appears below: 

  • Classes will be cancelled for the week after Spring Break, March 16-22.
  • All campus events next week (March 16-22) will be cancelled.
  • From Monday, March 23 through Friday, April 3, we will suspend face-to-face instruction in lectures, discussion sections, seminars and other similar classroom settings and move to virtual instruction.
  • The university will, however, remain open, including administrative offices, residence halls, food services, and limited transit.

We have a continuity of operations plan in place for this situation, and the law school administration has been meeting regularly over the past week to prepare, although we hoped our preparations would not be needed.  During the next ten days, faculty will be busy planning for alternative, virtual instruction. Classes beginning March 22 may be offered in a synchronous format or as a taped lecture on Panopto.  Any classes offered in a synchronous on-line format will be offered during the normal meeting time for your course.  If a class is offered via Panopto as a recorded lecture, the recording will be available to students no later than the scheduled meeting time of the class. 

If you have not previously logged into Panopto, you must do so as soon as possible.  You will need to login to the School of Law Panopto site.  When you get to the School of Law Panopto site, login via SAML with your USC network ID and password.  Until you do this, you will not be able to access class materials provided through Panopto. 

In addition to preparing for electronic classes, faculty will be developing materials to make up the class time missed next week.  Because of the move to on-line education after the break and the few weeks that will be left before exams, assuming live classes can resume on April 6, we do not anticipate rescheduling the missed classes as live classes.  Make-up materials hopefully will be in place for students no later than March 26, in order to ensure that you have adequate time to review a large volume of make-up material before finals begin.   

Clinics and externships are being handled under special plans addressing the peculiarities of those courses.

We are still expecting that exams will not be affected by COVID19, but if the health situation continues through April, we can use Examplify and TWEN to offer exams remotely. 

At present, we expect the law school building will remain open. However, if you feel sick, you should not come into the building.  If you are exposed to someone with COVID19, you likely will be required to self-quarantine and should let Dean Palmer know of your exposure.  Also, if anyone travels through a country at level-3 status (including a flight having a layover in such a country), we have been advised that you must let us know and that you will be required to quarantine upon your return.

 We are also making plans to ensure that you are able to receive advisement and register for classes for the summer and next fall.  Details on those plans will be released when they are ready.

In order that we can stay as safe as possible during the next few weeks, we all will need to adjust our usual expectations significantly.  Our classes won’t be quite the same.  Stress levels for some may be elevated.  Unfortunately, a number of traditional end-of-year events will also be disrupted, as will Moot Court and Mock Trial events.  But we have the plans in place to ensure that we stay as healthy as possible and still provide you with an excellent education.

I know that these circumstances are likely to raise a number of questions about specific aspects of the weeks ahead.  We will work to answer all of your questions as quickly as we can, but ask for your understanding if we are not able to respond to every question instantly.  I ask that everyone be flexible and patient with each other.  We are working hard to get things right, with health and safety as the foremost concern, but this is a new experience for all of us, and plans will undoubtedly change as new situations arise.

Thanks,

Robert M. Wilcox
Dean
University of South Carolina School of Law

From: Dean Rob Wilcox
To: School of Law Faculty and Staff
Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at 1:03 PM
Subject: COVID 19 Operational Changes

Dear Faculty and Staff, 

As you may be aware, the University has cancelled all classes and university activities next week.  Beginning March 22 until April 3, no face-to-face instruction will be allowed and, during those two weeks, all classes must be offered on-line. The exact wording of the University announcement appears below:

  • Classes will be cancelled for the week after Spring Break, March 16-22.
  • All campus events next week (March 16-22) will be cancelled.
  • From Monday, March 23 through Friday, April 3, we will suspend face-to-face instruction in lectures, discussion sections, seminars and other similar classroom settings and move to virtual instruction.
  • The university will, however, remain open, including administrative offices, residence halls, food services, and limited transit.

The university announcement further states that “Many institutional resources are being marshalled to assist faculty in making adjustments to their teaching modalities.  Additional information regarding whom to consult about your class and what procedures to use to adjust classes will be provided in a separate memo from the Provost office later today (Wednesday, March 11).”

Next week will be a very busy work week, and please do not treat the delay in class resumption as an extended Spring Break.   Between now and March 22, faculty must plan for alternative, virtual instruction.  We have a continuity of operations plan in place for this situation, and the law school administration has been meeting regularly over the past week to prepare, although we hoped it would not be necessary. 

Our current plans are to use four standardized platforms to provide instruction -- Panopto, TWEN, Blackboard Collaborate, and WebEx.  There is a training seminar today at 2:00 pm and it will be repeated on March 16 at 10 a.m.  The sessions will be available on WebEx if you prefer to participate electronically.  All faculty should complete one of these trainings and work with our academic technology folks to ensure that you have the hardware you need to provide classes electronically.  All classes offered in a synchronous on-line format must be offered during the normal meeting time for the course.  Do not change that schedule.  If a class is offered via Panopto as a recorded lecture, the recording must be available to students before the scheduled meeting time of the class. 

In addition to preparing for electronic classes, faculty will need to develop materials to make up the class time missed next week.  Because of the move to on-line education after the break and the few weeks that will be left before exams, assuming live classes can resume on April 6, we do not anticipate rescheduling the missed classes as live classes.  Therefore, faculty will need to develop electronic materials to cover the missed class time as well. These material should be in place for students no later than March 26, in order to ensure students have adequate time to review a large volume of make-up material before finals begin.  Faculty should not simply “cancel” the missed classes.

Clinics and externships are being handled under special plans addressing the peculiarities of those courses.

We are still expecting that exams will not be affected by COVID19, but if the health situation continues through April, we can use Examplify and TWEN to offer exams remotely.  It is not too early to be planning for that possibility. Faculty should be considering, for example, whether a change in the exam format would be needed, given the potential for students to have access to materials that would not be possible during an in-class examination. 

During this time, faculty and staff will be working a regular schedule.  If you feel sick, you should not come into work. Faculty who miss work due to illness or who are exposed to someone with COVID19 should let Colin Miller know of your illness or exposure.  Staff should let your supervisor know.  If you are exposed to someone with COVID19, you likely will be required to self-quarantine.  Also, if anyone travels through a country at level-3 status (including a flight having a layover in such a country), we have been advised that you must let us know and that you will be required to quarantine upon your return.

In order that we can stay as safe as possible during the next few weeks, we all will need to adjust our usual expectations significantly.  Our classes won’t be quite the same.  Stress levels for some may be elevated.  Unfortunately, a number of traditional end-of-year events will also be disrupted.  But we have the plans in place to ensure that we stay as healthy as possible and still provide our students with an excellent education.

I know that these circumstances are likely to raise a number of questions about specific aspects of the weeks ahead.  We will work to answer all of your questions as quickly as we can, but ask for your understanding if we are not able to respond to every question instantly.  (It has taken me nearly 2 hours to compose this message because of things that needed to be addressed quickly.) I ask that everyone be flexible and patient with each other.  We are working hard to get things right, with health and safety as the foremost concern, but this is a new experience for all of us, and plans will undoubtedly change as new situations arise.

Thanks,

Robert M. Wilcox
Dean
University of South Carolina School of Law

 

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

 

Due to concerns over COVID-19, all events at the University of South Carolina have been cancelled through the end of the spring semester.  This includes the University of South Carolina School of Law’s participation as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site.

Arrangements are being made to help you using the Virtual VITA process. 

Virtual VITA means you will drop off your tax forms, have a short interview, sign a consent form and have copies made of your ID and Social Security card.  This information will be sent electronically to a certified preparer who will prepare your return who will call you if there are any questions. Your return will be reviewed and electronically filed. A copy will be mailed to you along with all your other paperwork.

The main drop off site for Virtual VITA will be at Cooperative Ministries, 3821 Beltline Blvd. Columbia, SC 29204 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

For information about other local area VITA sites that are still operating contact 211.


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