By Forum Staff
Vermont Law School’s physical campus will remain closed for the remainder of the spring semester, as South Royalton prepares for COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus.
The school’s COVID-19 Task Force met Tuesday and unanimously decided to extend the campus closure until May 11. Starting Wednesday, VLS will conduct all classes and exams online, according to Vice Dean for Students Beth McCormack.
“We have faith in our community that we will all be able to rise to the occasion and continue to provide a meaningful legal and policy education outside of the walls of our physical campus,” McCormack wrote in an email to students. “The American Bar Association and other accreditors support this decision, and students will be able to successfully complete and earn credit for their Spring Semester classes in a virtual format.”
VLS initially closed campus for Mar. 16 and 17 and planned to move classes online Mar. 18-30. Tuesday’s announcement comes in response to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control discouraging gatherings of 50 or more people over the next eight weeks, McCormack said.
The COVID-19 Task Force has not yet made a decision regarding Commencement, scheduled for May 16. If campus does not reopen in time for the start of Summer Session in late May, McCormack said the school would move summer classes online as well.
“[T]he timing of the conferral of degrees, and eligibility to sit for the bar this summer, will not be impacted by these changes,” McCormack said.
The Fitness Center closed its doors Mar. 11, followed by the Cornell Library two days later. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) free tax preparation service has closed for the remainder of the season. The VLS Food Pantry has temporarily relocated to the bike shed, facing N. Windsor Street, and will be accessible weekdays, 7:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Mental health services remain available through the Clara Martin Center. In addition to remote sessions via telephone, VLS Mental Health Services Manager Ashley Ziai said the center is “researching secure technology options that could make video calling possible.”
With spring elections approaching, the Student Bar Association announced it will move the entire process online. In an email Monday morning, Secretary Laura Keenan said the SBA will hold all nominations and elections via email. Nominations will run Mar. 23-27, and the voting period will run Mar. 30-Apr. 3.
The Town of Royalton announced Monday that town offices will remain closed until further notice. Meanwhile, local community organizers are calling for volunteers for COVID-19 mutual aid work in the Royalton area.