Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated Thursday, August 6, 2020

Returning to Campus

We are looking forward to reopening campus for the Fall semester. This page outlines important information about health, safety, and academic policies and procedures. These policies have been developed after review of guidance from the CDC, Commission on Higher Education, WHO, and other agencies. In addition, Charleston School of Law is a participant in the Medical University of South Carolina’s “Back2Business” initiative.

These policies will necessarily be a work-in-progress. We are all in uncharted waters and will need to adapt according to the circumstances. There may be issues or considerations that we will not identify until the policies are actually in effect. All of us will need to be flexible and patient as the Fall semester progresses. Working together, we will get through this crisis and have a successful semester.

Academic Program

This Fall, we are offering many classes face-to-face, both for 1Ls and upper-level students with online-only options. To help reduce density in the building, we encouraged students to take a mix of both face-to-face and online courses to reduce the number of days per week that they come to campus. 

If students wish to make any adjustments to their schedules, they will need to do so during the Add/Drop period, August 14 through August 21, by completing the form that can be found here and returning it to the Registrar’s Office. Dean Lawton and Registrar Baker will be monitoring course enrollments and making adjustments as necessary.  

Online-Only Option. Students, regardless of class year, have the option to attend class in a completely online fashion, subject to course availability, if they have concerns over their health and safety as it relates to COVID-19.  We will offer fully online sections of most required courses. Students who opt to take all online classes will receive the same level of support from Student Services, Career Services, the Library, and other departments of the Law School, albeit in virtual form. 

1L Courses. We have planned for 1Ls to take the majority of their doctrinal classes in-person. As noted above, 1Ls have the option of attending class in a completely online fashion if they have concerns over their health and safety as it relates to COVID-19. In addition, to bring down density in our buildings, every section of the 1L class will now have two of the following doctrinal classes in an online format: Contracts, Property, or TortsThe goal of having two doctrinal courses per section online will be to reduce the number of people on-campus and, thus, reduce the likelihood of the spread of the virus, while still providing 1Ls with an on-campus experience 

Upper-Level Courses. For upper-level students, we have moved a number of required and elective courses online so that students can—if they wish—mix-and-match face-to-face and online courses. 

Academic Policies

  1. Attendance and Handouts — Professors will not take attendance by passing around a sign-in sheet. Instead, professors (both in-person and face-to-face) will take roll through an online poll or by calling names verbally. Distribution of paper handouts will be minimized; instead, professors are encouraged to make documents available by TWEN or e-mail.
  1. Participating in Class Remotely — If you must miss an in-person class due to illness or because you are self-isolating, you will be able to participate in your in-person classes remotely through Zoom and be counted as present. A list of Zoom classrooms will be distributed separately. If you anticipate being out for three or more class sessions, you must e-mail Dean Lawton.
  1. Assessments and Final Exams — The assessments in September and October will be administered remotely. Instructions will be released prior to exam day. A decision has not yet been made about whether final exams will be in-person or remote. We anticipate announcing plans on or before November 1.

Health and Safety Policies

  1. Health Checks — Students are responsible for knowing the symptoms of COVID-19. Prior to arriving on campus each day, you must conduct a self-assessment of your health. If you have any COVID-19-related symptoms, do not come to campus but instead seek direction from your medical provider. If you do not have a doctor, MUSC is providing free COVID-19 screenings through its telehealth service. Be sure to seek prompt medical attention if you become ill and call 911 if your condition presents an emergency — when seeking care, first inform the provider if you have tested positive for COVID-19. If you have an in-person class, e-mail your professor and, if you are able, join the class through the Zoom link for your classroom at the indicated time.  If your symptoms persist and you anticipate needing to quarantine or otherwise miss more than 3 classes, you must e-mail Dean Lawton.
  1. Masks — Masks or other face coverings are required at all times while on campus. This includes classrooms, the library, and while speaking. A student who meets one of the CDC’s exceptions or otherwise requires a disability-related accommodation must contact Dean Lawton. Students will not attempt to enforce the mask rule against other students. If you have concerns about another student appearing not to comply with the Law School’s policies, including the mask requirement, contact Dean Sanders.
  1. Eating and Drinking — Eating in classrooms is prohibited. Beverages may be consumed in classrooms, but please keep your mask on in between sips. Please dispose of any trash prior to leaving the classroom.
  1. Temperature Checks Not Required — After consulting CDC, WHO, MUSC, and other guidance, we have determined not to take every person’s temperature before entering the building. This is for a few reasons: (1) a person can be asymptomatic and still spread the virus, (2) fevers can be masked through medication, (3) outdoor temperatures or physical exertion can give false positives, (4) taking temperatures will cause unhealthy and impractical bottlenecks at building entrances, (5) other measures, especially wearing masks, will serve as better mitigation, and (6) all members of our community are responsible for monitoring their health and not coming to campus if they have any symptoms of COVID-19.
  1. Social Distancing — Students are to avoid congregating in groups. Seats in classrooms and the Law Library have been spaced apart to maximize social distancing; please leave them in place. Excess seats have been removed.  Although MUSC recommends spacing of seats 3 to 6’ apart, we have opted for spacing at the higher end of that range (5-6’).
  1. Law Library Hours — Based on student input, we have decided to expand hours more than initially planned. The revised hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 10:00 pm; Saturday closed; Sunday, 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm.  We will monitor Law Library usage, especially in the later evening hours, to determine whether further adjustments are appropriate. Based on student recommendations, the Law Library will be closed on Saturdays to allow our Facilities Department to deep clean the building.
  1. Law Library Policies — Dean Brown will be in touch before the first week of classes with detailed information about the Law Library’s policies, including new procedures for checking in and out of books and reserving seats and study rooms using a new app.  M101 and M102 are being converted to shared study spaces and will be cleaned on an enhanced basis, including between room reservations if possible.
  1. The Barrister — The Barrister will be open this Fall where students may purchase pre-packaged, grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, snacks, and beverages.
  1. Campus Closure on Saturdays — To facilitate cleaning, the entire Law School campus will be closed on Saturdays for the Fall semester except for the Maritime Salvage course that will meet on Saturday, November 14 in B223.
  1. Classroom Cleaning — Classrooms will be cleaned on an enhanced basis, including between class meetings if possible.  Therefore, please allow our Facilities staff to enter, clean, and exit classrooms before going in.

We strongly encourage everyone to be mindful of their conduct even while off-campus.  Do your part to reduce the spread of the virus.  Avoid locations where large groups are congregating without masks. 

Positive COVID-19 Result Protocol

An employee who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to notify Human Resources, and a student who tests positive for COVID-19 must notify Dean Sanders. Attempts will be made to contact-trace; however, with the current delays in testing as well as the prevalence of cases in South Carolina, this process will not be foolproof.  Nevertheless, attempts will be made to notify others with whom a COVID-positive person has had “close contact” (defined as 6’ proximity for greater than 15 minutes or contact with infectious fluids) so that they can self-isolate and seek guidance from their doctor about any required steps.

Anyone (faculty, staff, student) who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to self-isolate for the period indicated by his or her health provider, typically 14 days from the date of his or her test (not results).  A professor who tests positive and teaching in-person will convert his or her class temporarily to an online format using the Zoom link for the class’ regular classroom.  A student who tests positive will be able to stay current on courses by attending in-person classes by Zoom and online courses as usual.


FAQ – Health and Safety

  1. Are there steps I should take before coming to campus each day? Yes. You must self-monitor your health. If you are showing any symptoms related to COVID-19, do not come to campus. Instead, seek medical treatment.
  2. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, runny nose or new sinus congestion, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, fatigue, new gastrointestinal symptoms, and new loss of taste or smell are all associated COVID-19. For more information click this link for a list of symptoms, prepared by the CDC.
  3. Is a COVID-19 test required to come to campus? Based on current guidance, mandatory testing is not required at this time.
  4. I do not have health insurance; are there resources for me to get treatment or a test?  Yes. Please visit this webpage for local resources.
  5. Are masks or other face coverings required while on campus? Yes. Current guidance indicates that this is one of the most effective ways to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
  6. What other steps should I take to minimize the spread of the virus? Follow these best practices for hygiene found here.
  7. What steps is the Law School taking to clean the buildings? Our Facilities Department has engaged in deep cleaning of our buildings, including cleaning and sanitizing doors and door handles, restrooms, carpets, chairs, desks, table surfaces, light switches, and the student kitchen. Facilities is also implementing an enhanced cleaning schedule to regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces throughout the day. Every study space will be deep cleaned and sanitized at the end of each day. Cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer are available throughout the campus.
  8. Will the school provide masks or face coverings for students who do not have their own? Yes.  

FAQ – General Academic

  1. Will online classes meet synchronously or asynchronously? All online courses will meet at designated days and times each week, although, like all courses, there will be out-of-class work including readings and other assignments.
  2. Is tuition being adjusted for the 2020-21 academic year? The Board of Directors has approved a tuition freeze for the upcoming academic year. In addition, students’ tuition will be locked in for the duration of their studies at Charleston School of Law. The Law School is cognizant of both the need to keep the costs of legal education low, especially during this time of financial constraints for many people. At the same time, our expenses are increasing. We are investing heavily in upgrading classroom and online technology to better the student learning experience. In addition, many professors are spending their Summers receiving training in online teaching. Online learning is not “lesser”—it is different but still of high quality. CARES Act funding has thankfully helped to offset many of the Law School’s additional expenses related to COVID-19, including enhanced cleaning, additional supplies (masks, sanitizer, etc.), training for Facilities staff, and other unexpected expenses. 
  3. Will assessments, including final exams, be online? A decision about final exams will be made by November 1. Fully online students may be required to take their final exams in-person. 
  4. If I want to take classes online, may I later change my mind and attend classes in person? No, if you are in a fully online course, you will stay in that course through the semester.
  5. Will extra-curricular and co-curricular programs, such as moot court and mock trial, be held this Fall? Yes, although some programs may be modified to a virtual format.
  6. I am a student leader and would like to hold virtual meetings for my organization; will the school provide software to assist? Yes; all students currently have a free subscription through Office365 to Microsoft Teams, which has a videoconference feature. Instructions will be distributed to student leaders.
  7. Is the Professionalism Series affected? We anticipate having a mix of face-to-face and online sessions of the Professionalism Series. 
  8. If I would like to take all online courses, can I live outside of the region? Yes, but you may be required to travel to campus for assessments and exams.
  9. What will the classrooms look like for face-to-face classes? An advantage of moving some classes online is that it frees up some of our larger classrooms and, in turn, allows us to spread out seats and desks. However, even though other students may be 6’ apart, all students must wear masks at all times.  
  10. If I become sick or have to self-quarantine during the semester, how will I continue my face-to-face classes? All face-to-face classes will have the ability to livestream class sessions so that students can watch during any period of self-quarantine. Equipment is currently being installed in classrooms for this purpose.
  11. If classes are available via livestreaming, can I take a face-to-face class online? If a student wishes to take all online courses, he or she should register for all online courses. If a student has some difficulty registering for all online courses or has some other issue, please contact Dean Lawton to discuss possible options.
  12. I’ve seen that many schools are adjusting their academic calendars in light of COVID-19; is CSOL doing the same? The Law School’s academic calendar already called for classes to end before Thanksgiving, so we do not anticipate any changes. Please make sure to check the Academic Calendar to note class makeup days in the event of school closure.  

FAQ – 1L-Specific

  1. I would like to take a tour of the campus; when will the campus open? Please contact the Office of Admission.  To schedule a visit, click here.  
  2. I would like to take all of my courses online out of COVID-19 concerns; what must I do? Please contact Dean Bell as soon as possible.
  3. How is Orientation affected? The Office of Admission will be in touch soon regarding schedules for Orientation. 

FAQ – Upper-Level Specific

  1. If I’m satisfied with my schedule, do I have to do anything when registration reopens on Monday? In other words, do I have to start over with my schedule? No, you do not need to re-register for your current courses or do anything else if you are satisfied with your course now.
  2. I would like to take all of my courses online out of COVID-19 concerns; what must I do? You have two options. If you have a disability-related reason why you must be fully online, please contact Dean Lawton. Otherwise, all students will have the option of mixing and matching face-to-face and online courses, including taking a full complement of online courses, subject to availability.
  3. If I have a class in-person that ends at 2:50 and then a class online at 3 p.m., how am I supposed to get home in time for that 3 p.m. class? Students in this type of situation can do one of two things. First, we encourage students to adjust their schedules so that their courses are better grouped into face-to-face and online blocks of time. Second, we are working to create spaces on campus where students, properly socially distanced, can logon to online courses if they do not have reliable Internet access at home or their schedules are such that they are not able to make it home in time. 
  4. I have a financial, not medical, reason not to take a face-to-face class: all of my classes are online except one, and I would save money if I didn’t have to come to campus for the one in-person class. Can I livestream that class? Please contact Dean Lawton if you are in a situation like this to try to identify a solution. 

FAQ – Other

  1. I now only have one in-person class; can I get discounted parking? Students in this situation would likely benefit from paying an hourly or daily rate rather than purchasing a parking pass. 

We will continue to monitor guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) about when to activate our plans for ongoing response to the spread of the virus.  The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has created a webpage with additional information about COVID-19 and its effects in South Carolina.

Who to contact?

You may email any of the below associate deans with questions.

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