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FAQs Concerning COVID-19

Interim Dean Lockridge held a Virtual Town Hall with the student body on March 27, 2020 to provide updates and answer questions. The FAQs below were developed from that town hall.


Attendance

How does the attendance policy work now that classes are online?

At this time, students may meet attendance requirements by attending live Zoom classes or by watching recorded classes and lectures.  There is no deadline by which recorded classes or lectures must be watched, other than the last day of classes. At this time, absences accrued before the policy of taking attendance was suspended still remain in the absence record. 

The faculty meets on April 1, 2020. It may or may not make additional adjustments to the usual methods of enforcing the policy that students attend class, now that we are no longer holding in-person classes for the rest of the semester. We will announce any adjustments as soon as possible after that meeting, but we will need a short time to prepare and circulate a written explanation to you if a change is made.

If I cannot attend a real-time Zoom class, do I need to email my professor to confirm I have watched the video?

No.  Both Zoom and Panopto software create a record of when a student has watched a video.

 

Exam Administration

How will exams be administered?

Exams will be administered through the Exam4 software that students have previously used for both in-class and take-home exams. 

Will I still receive my ADA accommodations during exams?

Yes, the exam software provides for ADA accommodations to be appropriately programmed.  There may be some exceptions to accommodations for additional time in cases when the amount of time allotted for the examination itself renders additional time unnecessary under the University’s accommodations policy.

Will students be able to print exam questions, and if so, will print time be factored into the time given to complete the exam?  Will there be resources available for students who do not have personal printing resources?

The faculty is working on a uniform exam policy and more information will be forthcoming. The software provides a PDF, which does allow for the exam to be printed.

When will LSU law students have any additional information regarding the format of our exams?

The Law faculty will meet on Wednesday, April 1, to consider and decide any remaining exam policies for this semester.  We will announce any adjustments as soon as possible after that meeting, but we will need a short time to prepare and circulate a written explanation to you of any adjustments.

 

Grading

What options are the law faculty considering with regard to the grading policy for this semester?

The faculty is studying a wide range of options for the grading policy for this semester and the potential effects that will result from changes to the grading policy.  Each option poses a unique set of mechanical difficulties and negative effects on different populations.  The three broadly defined areas being considered are a pass/fail system (including pass-fail with multiple levels, which the Law Center already uses in certain courses: E/HP/P/F), and opt-in versions of a pass-fail system, or retention of the current grading system with potential modifications.  All student comments and concerns submitted to the administration and to the faculty are being taken into account as these decisions are made.

Unfortunately, in this situation, no single solution will seem fair to each individual student. What hit the country, hit Louisiana, and hit our Law Center community does not hit every student in a fair and even way. Inequities have been created among our students by the sudden campus closure and “stay home” order in technological access necessary for online coursework, access to quiet study space with the Law Center and public facilities closed, family care responsibilities, economic effects due to job losses, and more. At the same time, some number of students were hoping to use this semester improve their grades and thus improve future employment prospects. Facing a possible grading change makes that hope and any hard work that went with the hope seem unfairly placed in jeopardy.

The Law Center faculty, staff, and administration, as well as the University administration, are all fully committed to do our best, under these sudden, disruptive, and incredibly imperfect conditions, to devise and implement a policy that most equitably and appropriately supports the Law Center student community as a whole.

When will LSU law students have an answer regarding the grading policy for the semester?

The Law faculty will meet on Wednesday, April 1, to consider and decide the grading policy and exam policies for this semester.  We will announce any adjustments as soon as possible after that meeting, but we will need a short time to confirm with University administration and then prepare and circulate a written explanation to you if a change is made.

We have heard that both Tulane and Loyola law schools have moved to pass/fail.  In addition, Tulane students have already been notified about a take-home exam format.

In studying the pass-fail options that some schools have elected to implement for this semester, we have seen that most schools have variations within those plans.  For instance, Loyola is offering students an optional pass-fail system with election being made after grades are received.  Alternatively, Tulane has instituted a mandatory pass-fail grading system but with a high pass category for up to 15% of exams in curved courses and potentially higher percentages in courses without a mandatory curve.  For Tulane students, a High Pass and Pass will not factor into GPA calculations, but an F will.  Some schools will implement an optional pass-fail system that requires election to be made before exams are taken, or after exams are taken and before grades are received.  The Law Center faculty continues to study the issue, as noted above, and will work to devise a policy that supports our community as a whole.

How is student input considered in this process of determining what the grade policy and exam policies will be?

Comments from students may be submitted by email to Dean Lee Ann Lockridge (lockridge@lsu.edu), Associate Dean Andrea Carroll (acarro6@lsu.edu), and Assistant Dean Jake Henry (jakeh@lsu.edu).  Student concerns have been gathered in other fora (such as from the career counselors and individual faculty members who have had discussions with students).  The reasoning behind student comments has been and will continue to be shared with the faculty as they deliberate these matters (but not student identities or identifying details).  Faculty will take into consideration all information provided to them in support of the various options at hand. We have the results of a student-led poll, and we will pass that information to the faculty for its consideration along with other information. Please note that no additional poll will be conducted by the administration, as the decisions will not be based on a majority vote of the students, but rather on what is best for the Law Center community as a whole.  We ask that the students trust the faculty to take a wide range of factors into account as it makes difficult decisions in an incredibly disrupted time for our community.

What about students who are close to academic milestones, such as Latin honors?  Are students “frozen in time” based on the fall semester?

This too is being considered by the faculty in the overall discussion of the grading policy.  Faculty may consider implementing a statistical error band or look at historical information for trends in GPA changes from one semester to another.  This question will be considered in conjunction with the grading policy decisions.

Would 1L rankings be done away with all together, especially if the faculty vote to implement a pass-fail grading system for this semester?  Some students are concerned that the first semester ranks would remain, resulting in jobs and other opportunities being awarded solely on first semester performance.

The faculty cannot reverse time and reverse or erase a rank previously announced. That is historical. Some schools have announced they will not rank any students at the end of the 2019-20 academic year, which is certainly an option on the table here. We could elect not to rank the 1L or 2L classes in any fashion at the end of the year. For the 3L class, however, not doing any ranking at the end of the year would mean not awarding the cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude Latin honors. On the other hand, the entire 3L class need not be ranked in order to create those groups of honors.

 

Summer Program

Will summer courses still be offered, and will these courses be administered in person or online?

The summer program in Baton Rouge will be held.  Whether these courses will be offered in-person or online will depend on local, state, and federal guidelines and restrictions at that time.  The Law Center will host in-person courses if guidelines allow; it will move the courses online (with greater lead time) if guidelines do not allow it.

What will happen with field placements this summer?

Modifications will be made to the experiential learning program if students are not allowed to participate in field placements because of local, state, or federal restrictions.

Will there be more courses available in the summer?

If courses are moved to a distance format, additional sections of currently planned courses may be available.

 

Employment

If the Law Center moves to a pass/fail grading system, aren’t students going to lose job opportunities?

The general view of deans around the country, and in talking to employers and judges, is that there is a lot of employer awareness of this situation.  There is likely to be a loss in employment prospects overall, but this not a question of pass/fail grading policy (or any grading policy this semester, for that matter). Employment uncertainty will be due to the economic uncertainty around the country and measures that are beyond our control.  The Law Center is committed to assisting its students in gaining employment and continues to have conversations with employers to remain engaged on these topics.

Does the Law Center and the Office of Career Services have any plans for assisting students whose summer clerkships and other opportunities are canceled or otherwise affected?

Some firms have expressed nervousness about their ability to commit to permanent positions.  The Law Center staff remain engaged with private firms to encourage collaboration on future planning and hiring. 

Has consideration been given to lifting employment restrictions for students who need employment based on the current situation?

Yes. Students may email Associate Dean Andrea Carroll to request an exception to the employment restrictions.

 

July Bar Exam

Does the Law Center know how the July bar exams will be affected?

The Law Center does not have any firm information yet from the Louisiana Committee on Bar Admissions.  The deans of the Louisiana law schools are discussing ways to assist and encourage creativity, and they will be speaking soon to the Committee to encourage strong planning well in advance of the July bar test dates.

The organization that provides the components of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), including the multiple-choice Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), has stated that a decision would be made about those exams around May 5.  That means many other states will be making their decisions around that time as well. Deans are encouraging other state bar examiners to consider creative solutions as well.