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January 6, 2021

Dear Georgetown Law Community,

Happy new year. I hope you all had a safe and restful break. I am writing today to share more information on our planning for the spring semester, which begins on January 25. This is a long email with important information. The core points are: (1) we continue to plan for limited on-campus programs in the spring semester; (2) in light of the increased severity of the pandemic, we continue to refine and reassess those plans; (3) it is possible that at the start of the spring semester the campus will remain closed to most students, though we hope not; and (4) all students will be eligible to participate in on-campus programs, but will need to register to do so. I also want to emphasize that DC has yet to approve all aspects of our plan, which is yet another source of uncertainty. I will be sending out weekly updates between now and January 25 to keep you apprised of all new developments.

On November 16, I shared the outlines of our contingency plans, should we be able to invite students back to campus in the spring semester. If you will recall, the basic elements of those plans are the following:

  • A limited number of hybrid classes. These would include some first-year courses, clinical seminars, a limited number of LLM courses, and, if conditions further permit, a few upper-level courses.
  • A large number of study spaces, available on a reservation-only basis.
  • Opportunities for on-campus meetings for student organizations, career and academic advising offices, centers and institutes, and other Law Center groups.
  • As the weather warms up, events for upper-class and master’s students on the greens.

As I emphasized in the November email, these are contingency plans. What we are able to implement will depend on the trajectory of the pandemic. Since I wrote that email we have had very good news about vaccines. It has also become clearer that we will have a difficult period before those vaccines are widely available and significantly reduce the virus’s spread. To mix metaphors: Though we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, we are not out of the woods yet. So while we want to prepare everyone to come to campus if it can be opened, I also want to emphasize that the situation remains in flux. It may be that we are not able to provide additional on-campus programming on January 25.

If you are a student, you do not need to be enrolled in a hybrid class to enter the testing protocol so you can come to campus for other types of programs (assuming they are permitted). Many students have already completed the Spring Affirmation. If you have not, you must complete the Affirmation in order to be eligible for access to campus. To do so, please log into the GU360 website, click on the “Spring 2021 Affirmation” icon and follow the instructions. If you are not sure whether you have completed the Affirmation, you may do so again. (Students who have not already completed the Affirmation received a reminder email from University leadership with additional information on doing so.)

All students will be receiving an email message from Dean Bailin in the next week providing information on what additional steps they will need to take to enter the protocol and be eligible to come to campus in the spring semester. If you do not intend to access campus, please do not enter the testing protocol.

Faculty and staff continue to be permitted on campus only for specifically approved purposes, such as teaching or a job that requires an on-campus presence. Faculty who need to access campus to pick up items from their office can find instructions on how to do so on the Faculty Virtual Office.

Because it is so clear that the public health situation is going to get worse before it gets better, we are planning for the possibility of a staged opening of campus. Most significantly, if we cannot implement our entire plan, we have begun to think about which elements to prioritize. If the public health situation permits the implementation of only some parts of the plan, our first priority will be to open student study spaces and invite some clinical courses back to campus. Thus on January 25, it may be that these are the only on-campus activities available (assuming, again, that we receive DC approval). Then, if circumstances permit, we will take the other steps I announced in November: offer other hybrid courses, other on-campus meetings, and we hope eventually to offer access to the Fitness Center. Again, I will notify you as soon as final decisions are made on this front.

Please keep in mind that elements of the plan might also change over time as the public health situation develops. For example, in December the Mayor prohibited indoor gatherings of more than 10 people. So long as that order is in effect, if and when other on-campus meetings are permitted, it will be only in groups of ten or fewer.

I want to thank you again for the effort everyone in this community -- students, staff, faculty, and administrators -- put into making the fall semester work as well as it did. There was no template for what you all have accomplished during this period. I stand in awe of the care, creativity, dedication, and hard work that went into it, and of the results they produced. I eagerly await the day when we can all return to campus under something approximating normal conditions. In the meantime, I am grateful to all of you for everything you have done and are doing to continue our mission.