Frequently Asked Questions – Autumn Quarter 2020

Please consider these answers to be part of a living document, one that will continue to be refined, updated, and added to as more information becomes available and as we continue to receive public health guidance. The public health situation in Chicago and nationwide continues to evolve quickly, and it may be necessary to alter our plans in the future.

What is the academic calendar for Autumn 2020?

The Law School will begin all classes on Monday, September 21, 2020. The last day of classes will be November 20, 2020. Final exams will be entirely remote and will take place from December 1 to 8, 2020. Students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving break. We will not have Autumn Break this year, but we will have an entire week off at Thanksgiving instead.

Most classes in other divisions of the University will begin on Monday, September 28. Booth classes also begin on September 21. If you are planning to take courses in other parts of the University or if you are a joint degree student, please review the appropriate divisional website for more information on dates, information about course format, and any additional procedures. You may also direct questions about taking classes across the Midway to our Academic Advisor Jesse Landstrom.

How will the hybrid model work?

Courses and seminars in the Autumn Quarter will be taught in the hybrid model. Some classes will be offered only in a remote version, either because of the size of the class or in some cases because of faculty choice. Other classes, particularly 1L classes, smaller upper-level classes, and some clinical offerings will be held in-person. All in-person classes will also offer a remote option, and all classes will continue to be recorded.  As we have done in past years, the class schedule will become available in late August.

If I want to participate in Autumn classes remotely, what do I have to do?

As we get closer to Autumn Registration, each of you will be asked to indicate through a form whether you will participate in-person or remotely. As Dean Miles shared in his previous message, all Autumn classes will have a remote option, regardless of whether their instructors plan to teach in-person. Students attending remotely will be expected to attend synchronously during their regularly scheduled class times. All students have the option to participate in Autumn classes 100% remotely, no questions asked. We believe it is vital to preserve the health of our community. Doing so means that any student who wishes to participate in classes remotely for any reason should be able to do so without going through any administrative barriers.

If I begin the quarter in-person, will I be able to change to remote during the quarter?

Yes, students may switch to remote attendance at any point during the quarter for any reason. For example, a student whose situation changes may decide during the quarter to go fully remote for the remainder of the quarter. Alternatively, a student may need to switch to remote only for a short period, for example, if they believe they may have been exposed to someone who tested positive or if they begin to experience symptoms. Indeed, this is part of what some are calling “the new social contract”: if you wake up in the morning and think you might be sick, even if just slightly, we want you to stay home and attend classes remotely until you are well, have been tested, or meet any other criteria as laid out by our campus health experts. A part of this new commitment is that every student, as well as every faculty and staff member, will be required to take a safety training and attest to follow certain precautions before coming to campus. In the coming weeks, you will receive more information on these requirements.

Will classes in Autumn be recorded?

Yes, all classes will continue to be recorded via Zoom and their recordings made available on the Canvas site for that class. However, synchronous attendance is still required in all class sessions.

Has a decision been made about grading for next year?

At this time, no decision has been made about grades. Once a decision has been reached, Dean Miles will provide you with an update.

When will the class schedule become available?

We are aiming to release the class schedule in mid-August. If we are able to provide information sooner related to which classes will be in-person vs. 100% remote for Autumn, we will do so. However, we also want to remind students that all faculty have an option to teach remotely, just as you have an option to attend remotely. While individual faculty may plan for in-person in August, it is possible their situation could change prior to the start of classes in September. We will inform you of those changes as soon as we know them. As we did in Spring 2020, we will extend the add/drop period for biddable courses by a week so that you have extra time to make schedule adjustments.

What types of upper level classes will be held in-person?

With social distancing, our room capacities are much smaller than usual. Some of that capacity will be used for 1L and LLM classes. For 2Ls and 3Ls, we anticipate offering several in-person seminars and clinics. In addition, we have been and are continuing to work to find alternative space on campus near the Law School that can accommodate larger upper-level classes, potentially a substantial number of such classes. We will update you as soon as we know more. Additionally, while we will offer Greenberg Seminars this year, they will not be able to take place in faculty homes during the Autumn Quarter. As additional information about the course schedule becomes available, we will share this with you.

What if I have to miss the first day or week of in-person classes due to quarantine or because of a job?

We understand that some students may not be in Chicago the week of September 21 when classes begin because of work plans made before we finalized the start date. For students in this situation, you should a) notify your faculty and the Dean of Students office, and b) participate in your classes remotely when possible. Once you are back in Chicago (and accounting for any quarantine period due to Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order) you may then continue with any in-person courses.

Some students may need to miss the first week or two of in-person classes due to Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order. Students in this situation should a) notify your faculty and the Dean of Students office, and b) participate in your classes remotely until the period of quarantine has ended.

Whether you are impacted either by work plans or by quarantine, you will not be dropped from your in-person classes if you need to participate remotely as described by the two situations above.

Did the due date for Spring Quarter papers change when the start date for Autumn quarter changed?

No, Spring Quarter papers are still due on Tuesday, September 29 as originally scheduled.

Is there a chance that classes could move back to fully remote?

Yes, there is a chance that classes could move back to fully remote given that the University’s ability to reopen depends on city and state officials. For example, under the state’s Restore Illinois plan, universities may hold in-person classes only in Phase 4. If Chicago is required to move back to Phase 3 due to changes in positivity rates or other public health criteria, we would be required, along with every other university in Chicago, to return to fully remote instruction.

Will the Law School operate on the hybrid model for Winter and Spring Quarters?

The Law School’s goal is to return to a fully on-campus program as soon as it is feasible while ensuring the safety of every member of our community. Given the uncertainty of the course of the pandemic, as well as the need to follow recommendations from government officials and UChicago Medicine experts, we will make our decisions about the mode of instruction for Winter and Spring Quarter later this year. We will share those decisions as soon as they are made, and will continue to update our FAQ page with information relevant to these decisions.

When and in what format is Orientation 2020 taking place?

Orientation for all entering students will take place from September 11 to September 18. Orientation for the JD Class of 2023 will take place partially in person and partially virtually. Orientation for the LLM Class of 2021 will take place entirely virtually. Students who wish to participate remotely in Pre-Orientation or Orientation may do so.

Will there be in-person lunch talks in Autumn Quarter?

Unfortunately, we will not be able to have any in-person lunch talks or events in the Law School during Autumn Quarter. Our priority for Autumn is safely resuming in-person classes. For that reason, we will limit activities in classroom spaces to instruction only. This will also help keep the cleaning of spaces manageable and limit the amount of contact time individuals have within the building. All events for Autumn will need to take place remotely. Some students who have class in the building both before and after lunch may wish to join lunch events remotely while they sit in the Green Lounge or other approved places provided there is space.

However, we also encourage LSSOs to think about alternative times for holding student org events, such as starting at 6:00 PM or later. Having later events will allow students who need to travel over lunch to or from campus to still be able to participate live in Law School activities.

Since we will not have in-person lunch talks, can an LSSO hold an off-campus event?

For the start of Autumn Quarter we will not be able to accommodate off-campus LSSO sponsored events or lunch talks. We will continue to monitor the situation and revisit throughout the quarter.

Will I be able to travel in Autumn for a conference or as part of an off-site LSSO event?

The University is continuing the suspension of university-sponsored international and domestic travel until further notice.

Will the University athletic facilities or other spaces be open?

At the moment, we do not have information on which campus spaces may be open. As that information becomes available we will share it with you.

What steps are being taken to ensure the health and safety of those attending in-person?

If you have not already watched the Autumn Quarter Updates for Graduate Students from July 14, we would encourage you to do so. In this video, Dr. Emily Landon shares some important health and safety information about the return to campus. In addition to the information she shared, such as the campus requirement to wear a mask in any University building and on campus grounds and to maintain state and local social distancing guidelines, we are taking a number of steps at the Law School following University guidance, including enhancing cleaning and disinfection, especially in high-traffic areas and on high-touch surfaces, including elevators, bathrooms, and stairwells. The University has reduced capacity in our shared spaces (classrooms, Green Lounge, etc.) to ensure that those on campus maintain physical distance. Additionally, everyone who comes to campus will be required to complete a safety training before they are allowed to return. Everyone is asked to protect the safety of our community by adhering to the UChicago Health Pact. For more information on safety protocols, please visit the University’s website

What do I need to do before I am permitted to come to campus?

In order to enter to the Law School building, ever person will be required to complete COVID-19 General Safety training and to sign an attestation form affirming that you will comply with safety precautions. We recommend that you do the training and sign the form well before your planned return to campus. Please review and commit to uphold the UChicago Health Pact

Will there be a mandatory quarantine at the start of classes for those attending in-person?

Some students may be required to quarantine for two weeks upon returning to Chicago before they are allowed onto campus generally or into the Law School. The City of Chicago has put in place an Emergency Travel Order requiring those returning from certain states to enter a mandatory quarantine period. This list is updated every week and continues to change as infection rates change, so you should be prepared for a possible quarantine if you are traveling or living elsewhere this summer.

In order to facilitate quarantine for those coming from those certain states or for anyone else who needs to quarantine , we will also hold all classes remotely for the first week of classes, regardless of the format that will be used for the remainder of the quarter.

Can I eat in the building?

Food in the Law School building will be limited to the Green Lounge only, with tables set-up to provide 8 ft of social distance between chairs. This will be the only place in the building where students will be allowed to eat during Autumn Quarter. The Green Lounge set-up is particularly important as current guidelines require a greater amount of distance between those eating than between those merely sitting in the same room. Eating will not be allowed in classrooms or other building spaces. At this time, we are waiting to find out if the Law School Café will be open. As an alternative, students will be welcome to eat outside in the space around the Law School, abiding by social distancing rules, while the weather permits.

Can I use the Law School to study?

We are still in the process of determining which spaces in the building will be open and available for student use in Autumn Quarter. While we do not have a definitive answer at this time on space availability, students will only be able to use the Law School on days when they have a class in the building. Students who do not have a class in the building or permission from the Dean of Students to enter for a specific purpose should not come. Our goal is to keep building density to a minimum in order to ensure the health and safety of those coming for in-person instruction.

Will there be a change to tuition for the coming year?

The President and Provost have described in a series of messages that the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the University has been severe. The Law School planned for an increase in tuition for 2020-21, and to meet our scholarly and pedagogical goals, we are unable to step back from that planned increase. During the pandemic, we expect that as in recent years, a larger fraction of our students will receive some form of scholarship aid than at any other peer law school. Our Loan Repayment Assistance Program, which we revised and expanded last year, remains available to graduates who work in public interest for ten years.

What options are available for emergency aid?

The Law School works with the Bursar’s Office and several other campus offices to provide access to multiple emergency aid programs. Please reach out to Michelle Wortel should you need emergency financial assistance.

The University has received CARES Act funding and has committed to using the entirety of the grant to support students. The University is administering the distribution of those funds centrally. Eligible students who filled out a FAFSA form last year have already been notified. If you did not fill out a FAFSA for this past year and believe you may be eligible, please visit the Campus and Student Life web page and follow the instructions.

Will the same options for online textbooks be available for Autumn Quarter as for Spring?

For Spring Quarter 2020, some academic book publishers made their materials available for free or at reduced rates due to the rapid onset of the pandemic. The D’Angelo Law Library librarians collected and disseminated information to you and advocated with publishers on your behalf. Our research tells us that it is likely that most publishers will return to normal for Autumn Quarter. The Law School is continuing to advocate with legal publishers that the expanded access they provided during the Spring continue. The D’Angelo team will continue to disseminate information to students as we receive it.

I am not sure if I should go ahead and sign a lease in Chicago. What do I do?

We understand that many of you have held off signing a lease in Chicago due to the uncertainty of the situation. Like you, we have been following the changing case numbers in Illinois and around the country. This is a difficult decision and one that will be based on a variety of personal factors. Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Mode of class participation. If you plan to participate in Autumn classes fully remotely, then whether you return to Chicago for Autumn is up to you. You should keep in mind that the University has not yet made any announcement about the mode of instruction for Winter and Spring quarters.
  2. Campus activities. Access to campus buildings for study and events will be limited.
  3. Mid-year leases. Should the University be able to return to all in-person classes in Winter or Spring, or should your desire to be on campus for some classes change, you will want to consider the possibility of getting a mid-year lease. At the moment, UChicagoGRAD has indicated that there is a large supply of available units in Hyde Park. We do not have information about what the mid-year rental supply will look like.
  4. Flexible lease options. Some rental companies are willing to consider deferred leases or early termination, particularly if the situation should change. We would encourage you to talk with your rental company or landlord about their options if Illinois moves back to Phase 3 or some other reason causes the University to return to remote instruction.

What happens if I am unable to get a visa to come to the United States for the start of Autumn Quarter?

For those students that are not able to arrive to Chicago in time, for whatever reason, you will be able to start your academic year completely remote.  You will still have a full slate of courses to choose from, including coursework that you may need for the NY Bar.  The full curriculum of courses will be available for review in August and registration will take place in September.

What accommodations are being made for international students coming to Chicago?

International students coming to Chicago from abroad, like all other students, may be required to quarantine for two weeks before they may come onto campus. Students in that situation should let their professor and Dean of Students office know and should also make plans to participate in their classes remotely for that period.

For students facing delays coming to Chicago due to visa issues, we support those students in starting in-person whenever they are able to arrive. Any student experiencing issues coming to the U.S. should be in touch with the Dean of Students Office and should also work with the Office of International Affairs.

As an entering student, may I defer my admission for Autumn 2020?

Entering JD students may be in touch with Associate Dean Ann Perry to discuss the possibility of a deferral. Please reach out by Friday, July 17, 2020.  This will help with planning purposes for the start of the Autumn quarter.

Entering LLM students may be in touch with Justin Swinsick to discuss deferrals. Please reach out by Friday, July 31, 2020. 


As a returning student, may I take a leave of absence?

For any current student who wishes to take time away for health or personal reasons, we encourage you to reach out to Dean of Students Charles Todd to discuss the process for taking a leave of absence.

Has the Law School received a variance from the American Bar Association for hybrid and/or remote learning for Autumn Quarter 2020?

At its July 15, 2020, meeting, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association granted the Law School an Emergency Variance from the credit limitations of Standard 306(e) for the 2020-2021 academic year. We hope that it will not be necessary to take advantage of it for that long.