VLS announces fall semester to be held virtually

By Julia Guerrein, Editor-in-Chief

On Saturday, VLS President and Dean, Thomas McHenry, announced that Vermont Law School will be holding classes virtually for the fall 2020 semester.

“This is not what we hoped for, but we made this decision to provide a consistent educational experience for all of our students and to be attentive to the safety and security of our community,” read McHenry’s email. “In making this decision, our guiding principle has been what is best for students…”

Two days prior, McHenry emailed to announce that VLS would be open on a “hybrid basis” in the fall, which would have included both virtual and in-person classes. That email described that half of the incoming 1L students would be online and half on-campus.

The change in decision came quickly, and McHenry cited many reasons in his later email. These include factors such as the safety of travel, the number of classes that were already going to be held virtually or at limited capacity, three weeks of classes that would have been virtual anyways, and the possibility of another COVID-19 outbreak.

“The most demanding challenge posed by the pandemic is uncertainty,” McHenry said in his email. “We hope this decision provides as much certainty as possible and helps with your fall planning.”

VLS plans to open campus facilities to students living in South Royalton when it is safe to do so. This may include the library, study areas, printing, campus Wi-Fi, and limited food options. If facilities do open, students will be required to wear masks and social distance.

Additionally, the email stated that VLS’s decision is consistent with American Bar Association (ABA) guidelines. Students will be able to take a Leave of Absence for the fall semester or a medical leave if they become sick. All classes will be graded, as opposed to the pass/fail system used for the spring semester.

The official press released from VLS can be found here. Past updates from VLS regarding the coronavirus can be found here.

The Forum will post updates as available.

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