Fall 2020 FAQs

On August 3, 2020, the Law School released its Fall 2020 Reopening Plan. We encourage you to review it carefully.

Vice President for Student Affairs Soncia Reagins-Lilly has also issued a letter to University of Texas students regarding the return to campus.

These FAQs are a work in progress and will continue to be updated as the public health situation and our plans evolve. Please check back periodically for updated information.

If you are an entering 1L in Fall 2020, you can find answers to your questions here.

Last updated August 3, 2020.

    Academics and Classes

  1. The University, in consultation with public-health authorities, has decided to operate this fall on a “hybrid” basis. What does that mean for the law school?

    We expect to offer many classes in person (with options for remote participation). A minority of classes – but still a very substantial number – will be conducted in remote form only.  And a very small number of classes (all of them experiential) will be conducted in person only.

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  2. Is it possible all classes will end up being online only? When will we know?

    It is certainly possible that classes will be online only.  This will depend on how the health situation unfolds in Austin and in the state.  The University, in close consultation with public-health authorities, will continue to monitor conditions.  Such a decision could be made at any time later this summer or during the semester.

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  3. If classes end up being mostly or entirely online, will I be able to pay reduced tuition?

    Decisions about tuition are made at the university level, not by the Law School.  It is our understanding that no reduction in tuition will result if classes are online.

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  4. Do I have to attend classes in person?

    No, you will be able to attend almost all classes scheduled to meet in person either in person or remotely.  A few classes will require in-person attendance, so please check the course descriptions carefully.

    If you choose to attend remotely, you can reside in Austin or elsewhere, as you like. We want you to make the best choice for your personal situation.

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  5. If I choose to attend remotely, can I watch the recordings of class online on my own schedule?

    If you wish to attend a class remotely, you will be expected to do so in “real time” – that is, during the live meeting of the class. Regardless of format, regular and punctual attendance is required in all courses. It is not a substitute for attendance to listen to a recording of a class session at a later time. Faculty members may adopt more specific attendance policies.

    If you become ill, or need to care for someone who is ill, or do not have childcare because of COVID-19, please contact Assistant Dean Elizabeth Bangs for assistance with appropriate accommodations.

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  6. When do I have to make a decision about whether to attend in person or remotely?

    For reporting and compliance purposes, the University is requiring all units (including the Law School) to create formally-distinct “sections” for all in-person courses that include a remote-participation option.  Students who intend to participate remotely all semester must be enrolled in the online sections of their courses.

    Law School transcripts will show no difference between the two sections, while official university transcripts will include the initials “WB” (web-based) next to the course name for those who are assigned to the remote-only section of the course.  The distinction will have no other practical impact, however; from the perspective of both the teacher and the students, there will be just the one course, with everyone learning together and graded together.

    Students who need to switch to an online section should add themselves to the appropriate waitlist in ROSE. The Student Affairs Office will monitor the waitlists and manually move students to the online sections.

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  7. How do I buy course packets this fall?

    The sales store will be open as usual during the first two weeks of school. In order to reduce congestion in the building, we encourage you to come in to purchase course packets on the following schedule:

    Monday, Aug. 24:

    • 8:30-10:30 am: Last names A&B
    • 10:30 am-12:30 pm: Last names C&D
    • 12:30-2:30 pm: Last names E-G
    • 2:30-4:30 pm: Last names H-K

    Tuesday, August 25:

    • 8:30-10:30 am: Last names L&M
    • 10:30 am-12:30 pm: Last names N-R
    • 12:30-2:30 pm: Last names S&T
    • 2:30-4:30 pm: Last names U-Z

    Students who are learning remotely can buy course packets online here.

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  8. Will grades be given this fall, or will classes be pass/fail?

    Coursework will be graded according to usual Law School policies.

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  9. If I have to attend classes remotely, will I be graded on a separate curve or be able to take classes pass/fail or receive other forms of relief?

    No.  Students will all be graded according to the usual rules of the School of Law, and will all be graded together regardless of whether they took a class in person or attended some or all sessions remotely.  We understand that this policy might be disappointing to some students.  If you are concerned that it will present a hardship for you, leaves of absence are available. Please contact Assistant Dean Elizabeth Bangs if you would like to discuss a leave of absence for Fall 2020.

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  10. If all classes (or some classes) are moved online when they were originally expected to be offered in person, what will be the effect on the Law School’s grading policies?

    If any or all classes are moved to an online-only format, we expect them to continue to be graded as before.  We did move to a pass/fail format last spring, but that was in part because of the sudden and unexpected nature of the change that everyone had to make.

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  11. The University said that classes will end at Thanksgiving. Does that apply to the law school?

    All law school classes will continue through the last scheduled class day, Monday, December 7, 2020. But between Thanksgiving and December 7, all classes will meet online, even if they had previously met in person.

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  12. The University said that all final exams will be remote. Does that apply to the law school?

    Yes, all law school final exams will be conducted remotely. We will provide more information about exam policies and procedures before school starts in August.

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  13. Has the Fall 2020 course schedule changed?

    We were obliged to make changes to the scheduled start-and-stop times for most fall courses—in most cases very modest changes, but in some cases significant—to make all this work. We also had to cancel a few classes, which we greatly regret. If you need advice or assistance with your schedule, please contact the Student Affairs Office.

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  14. Can I adjust my schedule if the changes don't work for me?

    Add/drop for Fall 2020 will reopen on Monday, August 24. If you need advice or assistance with your schedule, please contact the Student Affairs Office.

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  15. Health and Safety

  16. What if I get sick or my regular childcare is not available?

    If you become ill, or need to care for someone who is ill, or do not have childcare because of COVID-19, please contact Assistant Dean Elizabeth Bangs for assistance with appropriate accommodations.

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  17. What is the Law School doing to keep the building clean and safe?

    The Law School is committed to the health of everyone in our community. For complete details, please visit the reopening website.

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  18. What is the law school doing to reduce classroom density?

    The University has capped occupancy of classrooms at 40% of their seating capacity, and is requiring appropriate common-sense distancing within that limit.  We therefore have reallocated all in-person classes to rooms that can host their enrollments safely within those boundaries. Classes that are too large to fit in any of our classrooms are being conducted online.

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  19. Will masks be required?

    Yes, everyone in the building will need to wear masks, in class and outside class, unless you’re in a room by yourself.  The University is requiring this for the protection of everyone in the community.  If you cannot comply with this rule, you are welcome to take your courses through the online option instead.

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  20. Building Use

  21. I am used to studying in the law school, rather than at home. Will the building be open for students to study?

    If you plan to attend classes in person, we ask you to arrive no earlier than 30 minutes before your first class, then depart when you’re done for the day. We hope to keep the population density in the law school low. Limited space will be available in the building for students who cannot return home for their online classes or who want to study between in-person classes. You can find our complete facilities guidelines here.

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  22. What if I have a mix of in-person and online classes?

    In order to keep population density low, we generally will encourage you to come to the building for in-person classes and take your online classes at home. We know that will not work for everyone, however, and limited space will be available in the building for students who cannot return home for their online classes.

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  23. What about faculty office hours or meetings with the SAO and CSO?

    They will mostly happen remotely. Office hours and advising will all be just as plentiful as ever! They will just be delivered by phone or on Zoom.

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  24. Will there be food in the building?

    George's Cafe and the coffee kiosk in the Tom Clark Lounge to be open for limited "grab and go" service. Masks may be removed for eating, as long as social distancing is maintained.

    There will be no lunchtime speakers or events during the fall semester.

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  25. What about events?

    There will be very few gatherings in the building outside of classes, but we expect to offer our usual robust array of events online. The only events held in the building will be sponsored by the Student Affairs Office.

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  26. Tarlton Law Library

  27. When is Tarlton reopening?

    Tarlton will reopen on Monday, August 24.  On Monday, August 24, and Tuesday, August 25, hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Access to the library will be limited to UT Law faculty, staff, and students for the fall semester.  UT ID cards must be swiped at a card reader to enter the law school building and also to enter Tarlton.  Non-law students enrolled in cross-listed law school classes should contact Joe Noel, Head of Access Services and Instruction Coordinator, (jnoel@law.utexas.edu), to arrange Tarlton access.

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  28. What are Tarlton’s hours for the fall semester?

    Beginning on Wednesday, August 26, Tarlton’s physical facility will be open:

    Sunday: 9 am – 9 pm

    Monday-Friday: 7:30 am – 9:00 pm

    Saturday: closed

    Check the website’s hours information  for a complete listing of Tarlton’s hours of operation, including for reference services and Tech Desk assistance. Hours are subject to change during the semester.

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  29. What are Tarlton’s general operating conditions?

    Reference assistance, circulation services, tech desk assistance, access to print materials, and other library services will be available although some may be offered primarily or only electronically. Law students should come into the library only when they need to check out books, pick up print jobs, scan materials, obtain assistance at the tech desk, and engage in other library-related tasks.  Library seating capacity is greatly reduced due to the university’s social distancing requirements; extended studying is not encouraged.  All University and Law School safety requirements, including wearing face masks/coverings, must be observed.

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  30. How is Tarlton encouraging social distancing?

    Available seating and study areas are clearly marked throughout Tarlton’s facility. Chairs, table spaces, and carrels that are not available for use are taped off. Students may not move library furniture or sit in areas that are taped off or otherwise restricted.

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  31. How will Tarlton be kept clean?

    Tarlton is cleaned after closing every day by university custodial staff.  Library staff members will wipe down the Circulation Desk, Tech Desk, computer keyboards, printers, book scanners, and library entrance doors at intervals throughout the day.  Law students are encouraged to bring their own wipes and clean seating areas and equipment prior to use.

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  32. Can I work and study in Tarlton?

    Law students may study and prepare for classes in Tarlton between their onsite law school classes. Law students are strongly encouraged to work and study at home as much as possible.

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  33. How can I check out books and other items from Tarlton?

    Law students will be able to check out books and laptops at the Circulation Desk, which will be staffed whenever the facility is open. Computer peripherals and other non-book items will not be available for checkout.  The Law in Popular Culture collection (LPOP) will be unavailable.  Returned books will be quarantined for 72 hours before they are available for reuse.

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  34. Will Tarlton have a reserve collection?

    There will be no library course reserves collection during fall semester.  Permanent reserve materials will be reduced to the smallest collection possible. Any materials that students are required to purchase (Bluebooks, other citation guides, style manuals, etc.) will not be available for circulation. Check with the reference librarian on duty for electronic alternatives to reserve materials.

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  35. How can I get reference and research assistance?

    Reference and research assistance is available during hours posted on the website by contacting the Virtual Reference Desk.  Tarlton’s reference librarians can provide assistance via email, chat, Zoom, and phone.  Reference librarians will also be onsite, in a limited capacity, to help students requiring assistance with print resources. Contact the reference librarian on duty via the Virtual Reference Desk for more information.

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  36. Will Tarlton’s Computer Lab be open?

    The computers in the 3rd floor Computer Lab will be available for law student use whenever Tarlton is open. The number of computers available will be reduced to comply with social distancing requirements.

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  37. Will I be able to print/copy/scan?

    Most printing services and book scanners will be available during Tarlton’s operating hours.  See Tarlton’s How to Print, Copy, or Scan guide for full information.  The Lexis printers will be unavailable for use.  Check with the Tech Desk for further assistance.

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  38. How can I get help with computer problems or print/copy/scan issues?

    Tarlton’s Tech Desk assists law students with computer and technology issues, including printing and loading exam software.  Students can get assistance during hours posted on the website by visiting the Tech Desk on Tarlton’s 3rd floor or, if no staff is onsite, by contacting the Virtual Tech Desk.

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  39. Will Bloomberg/Lexis/Westlaw reps be available?

    Neither the Bloomberg/Lexis/Westlaw student reps nor the full-time employees will be holding in-person hours or tabling this fall. Law students with questions about these platforms can contact the Virtual Reference Desk  or reach out directly to the vendor representatives.

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  40. Can I eat and drink in Tarlton?

    Neither drinking nor eating is permitted in the Tarlton facility during the fall semester. Face coverings/masks must be worn at all times in the facility.

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  41. Can I reserve a group study room or the privacy room?

    Library group study rooms, the privacy and meditation room, and the Student Collaborative Study Lounge will be locked and are not available for fall semester.

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  42. Can I participate in Zoom classes in the library?

    Law students are encouraged to participate in Zoom classes from home whenever possible.  Students needing to participate in Zoom classes while at the law school may do so on the east end of Tarlton’s 3rd floor. Available areas are clearly marked.  Students may participate in Zoom classes on a “listening only” basis; social distancing is required, talking is not permitted, and headphones are required.

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  43. Student Life and Services

  44. What about student organization offices and events?

    Student organizations may not schedule in-person events during the fall semester. The Student Affairs Office is available to work with student organization leaders this summer to adjust their usual fall programming and find new opportunities for community and connection. The SAO will also work with journal leaders to facilitate remote publication.

    In addition, student organization and journal offices will not be open for occupation.  If you need things in those offices, the SAO can admit you to get them.

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  45. Can I rent a locker?

    Unfortunately, lockers will not be available this fall, as they do not permit necessary social distancing. Students with a documented disability or who can demonstrate need for a medical accommodation that would necessitate the use of a locker should contact the Student Affairs Office.

    Students should return their locker keys from last year to the Student Bar Association. Students are encouraged to clean out their lockers on the following schedule before classes begin:

    Monday, Aug. 24:

    • 8:30-10:30 am: Last names A&B
    • 10:30 am-12:30 pm: Last names C&D
    • 12:30-2:30 pm: Last names E-G
    • 2:30-4:30 pm: Last names H-K

    Tuesday, August 25:

    • 8:30-10:30 am: Last names L&M
    • 10:30 am-12:30 pm: Last names N-R
    • 12:30-2:30 pm: Last names S&T
    • 2:30-4:30 pm: Last names U-Z

    Students who are learning remotely should contact the Student Bar Association for assistance.

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  46. Are there financial resources available for students who have been impacted by COVID-19?

    Yes, there are three sources of funding available:

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  47. What other resources are available to support students with hybrid learning during the pandemic?

    We have collected a variety of resources that we hope will help you make the most of the fall semester. Please also reach out to Student Affairs if you have any questions or concerns.

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  48. What mental health resources are available?

    Our CARE counselor, Dr. Maria Timm, is available for telehealth appointments. You can contact her by calling 512-232-2295. We also recommend the student-maintained Texas Law Self-Care website for additional resources.

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