Proceeding with Hybrid Instruction

The Law School continues to plan to offer a mix of online and hybrid classes this fall. 

Dear Members of the Columbia Law School Community,

Earlier today, you received a message from President Bollinger announcing that undergraduate instruction at Columbia will take place virtually during the Fall 2020 semester. As President Bollinger described, this decision was based, in large part, on the unique challenges for undergraduate students in navigating the 14-day quarantine period imposed by New York State. While many law students will also be required to quarantine upon arrival, the substantially different living and learning environments for graduate students make complying with the quarantine mandate significantly less problematic for the Law School community.

Moreover, we continue to have a very high degree of confidence in both the stability of the public health environment in New York right now, as well as the measures that the University has put in place to protect those who wish to be on campus. The University’s robust on-campus testing and contact tracing program, developed by leading experts on Columbia’s health faculties, has proven effective in safeguarding the research population that has already returned to campus and is now operational for faculty, students, and staff who will be returning this fall. In addition, the University continues to monitor a range of specific public health metrics and is prepared to enact additional restrictions—up to and including a shift to all-virtual instruction—should there be cause for concern.

For these reasons, and along with other graduate and professional schools at Columbia, the Law School continues to plan to offer a mix of online and hybrid classes this fall, as I announced last month. We remain committed to fostering as robust an educational experience as possible, and to providing some on-campus instruction for those who wish to take part. Students who do not wish to come to campus may participate virtually; nothing has changed in this regard.

I know that some of you, particularly those who plan to live with roommates who are arriving from a location on the State quarantine list, may have difficulty managing your transition to New York. If you are in this situation—you and/or your roommate(s) are required to quarantine for 14 days—and do not have sufficient private space or bathroom access to do so safely, please contact [email protected] for guidance and further assistance.

If you haven’t done so already, I hope you will take a moment to review the University’s COVID-19 Resource Guide and the Law School’s COVID-19 Information and Resources page for further information about our plans and public health protocols, including testing, contact tracing, and daily symptom self-checks.

As is always the case, it is possible that circumstances may necessitate further revisions to our plans for the fall semester. We will continue to keep you informed of new developments as they occur and appreciate your patience and flexibility as we continue to work through this crisis. I look forward to the start of the semester and to seeing all of you before too long.

Best regards,

Gillian Lester
Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law