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All University of South Carolina system institutions will be closed through the end of the spring semester. Columbia campus virtual instruction will continue through the conclusion of final exams in May. Details can be found on the coronavirus landing page.

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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)

The University of South Carolina is working with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to actively monitor the novel coronavirus outbreak and any potential impact to our campus community.


COVID-19 Legal Forum

Thursday, April 2 | 12:30 - 2 p.m. EST

The faculty and staff of South Carolina Law will host an open forum answering your legal questions related to COVID-19. The questions you contribute will form the basis for our legal discussion. The focus will be on legal analysis: spotting issues, identifying sources, and developing arguments. We won't have all the answers, but together we can model the kind of legal work that the COVID-19 response will demand.

How to participate:

To post questions in advance (thank you!), visit blackboard.sc.edu -> Courses -> COVID19-LEGAL-FORUM -> Pre-Forum Questions -> COVID 19 Pre Event Discussion Board -> Create Thread
 
You can also submit questions in advance via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to be addressed in tomorrow's forum.

To participate in the interactive live session as a Blackboard user, visit blackboard.sc.edu and then click on Courses -> COVID19-LEGAL-FORUM -> LIVE FORUM

To participate in the interactive live session as a Blackboard guest, visit bit.ly/covid19forum

To listen to the live session by phone only, call +1-571-392-7650, PIN 575 850 4970 

To watch the session on Panopto (with a short time lag), visit bit.ly/covid19forum2
 

School of Law-specific communications

All information from previous updates, including updates from Dean Wilcox during the March 20 Town Hall, has been compiled below:

 

Access to School of Law Building

Students, faculty and staff will be permitted to briefly stop in to the law school on Monday, March 23 to retrieve work materials and other belongings. Please use the Senate Street entrance. The times for each group are as follows:

  • Faculty & Staff: 8 a.m. - 10 a.m.
  • High risk: 10 a.m. - 11 a.m.
  • Students: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

In order to ensure the health and safety of the law school community, please make sure you enter with washed hands, make use of the disinfectant wipes that will be available by the door entrance, practice social distancing once in the building, and do not linger in the building any longer than is necessary for you to gather what you need to attend class or work remotely.


Who to Contact

Technology: Please email lawhelp@law.sc.edu with any issues related to technology. All members of IT 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
Students should prepare for exams and other class materials to be graded in the same manner as they would under normal circumstances. Administration may consider changes over the next few weeks; until then, students should operate under the assumption that there is no change to grading. If a change is made, you will be notified.

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.

Registration
Summer and fall registration will be held Monday, March 23 through Thursday, April 2. The timeline is as follows:

March 24 Clinic Lottery closes at 5 p.m.
March 25
  • Students enrolled into clinic courses
  • Clinic Lottery results emailed to students by the end of business day
  • Capstone Lottery made available to students after notification of clinic lottery
March 27
  • 11 a.m. Capstone Lottery closes
  • 1 p.m. Rising 3L Summer Registration
  • 1:20 p.m. Rising 2L Summer Registration
March 30 Capstone Lottery results emailed to students by the end of the business day
March 31 1 p.m. Rising 3L Registration
April 2 1 p.m. Rising 2L Registration

Graduation Gala & Ceremony
The School of Law graduation gala and commencement ceremonies previously scheduled for May 7 & 8 are postponed. We share your disappointment and hope to reschedule these ceremonies in some way. Please be on the lookout for further communication regarding rescheduled activities. Once a decision is made regarding possible rescheduling, students will be notified about ordering regalia if applicable. Ruth Smyrl will be available to assist with this process if necessary.

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.

Summer School
It is possible that maymester and summer classes could be offered online. Decisions regarding these courses will be made over the coming weeks and you will be notified as decisions are made. If students intend to enroll in summer courses offered at other schools, students should work with Dean Nelson and Romona Keith to obtain approvals related to enrollment.

Student Affairs

  • The PILS Grant application deadline has been extended to March 31. The application form can be found here.
  • Students should visit the University of South Carolina Official Bookstore to obtain return labels for casebook rentals.
  • Student Organizations
    • Elections for student organizations will be held through TWEN. For help with this process, email Heather Beatty.
    • 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.
  • The 1L Writing Competition will take place as planned. The School of Law encourages students to submit entries for this competition and should be on the lookout for more information regarding the competition in the coming days.

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.

Clinics

  • The Clinical Lottery opened on Friday, March 20. All students who submitted forms to participate in the clinical lottery will need to resubmit forms. The forms have been reformatted to allow students to rank their choices. The deadline to resubmit the clinical lottery form is Tuesday, March 24.
  • The School of Law is working to ensure that the needs of clients are met during this time. We will work to ensure that all students receive credit for their clinical experience. Please email your clinical instructor if you have questions regarding the completion of your clinical experience.

Faculty

All faculty should notify their students of procedures for classes starting Monday, March 23 as soon as possible.

Available resources:

Staff

Questions?

Submit your questions through our web form.

Previous updates:

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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