FAQs - Meeting Students Where They Are

Will my classes be online or in-person?
As highlighted in the message from our AUWCL deans, nearly all law school courses will be delivered remotely in Spring 2021. Faculty continue to take full advantage of the online environment, and they look forward to supplementing larger courses with smaller and more personal online sessions. Program staff continue to plan engaging virtual panels, meets, and other events, as listed on our event calendar. Law library staff remain committed to supporting your academic success, both through remote reference assistance and through contactless delivery of books from the general collection.

Will the WCL campus be open to students? If so, what activities will take place on campus?
This Spring semester, we hope to gradually “ramp up” in-person student activity on campus. As of Feb. 3, 2021, WCL buildings will be open for access to library materials and reserved study spaces in the Pence Law Library (find out more in the following section). As March/April approaches, we hope to encourage more groups of faculty and students to use our outdoor spaces for meetings, study groups, recreation, and conversation. We will update the community about these initiatives as the time draws closer.

How can I reserve space to study or hold a small group meeting so I know a safe space is available for me when I come to campus?
In accordance with the district’s COVID policy, beginning Wednesday, Feb. 3, WCL buildings will be open for access to library materials and reserved study spaces in the Pence Law Library. You must have a study space or library service reservation in order to access any of the WCL buildings (except the Yuma lobby printing station). The reservation link for study space is here.  The reservation link for a library service appointment is here.  Please contact Khelani Clay or Adeen Postar in the Pence Law Library with questions. Available study reservations are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, including weekends.You will also be able to sign up for one hour library service appointments to copy or scan items or consult print materials.

Library staff are on-site Monday to Friday during regular business hours, to provide copies and scans, and to arrange for contactless delivery of books and materials from the collection. Contact Circulation for assistance.

What is WCL doing to ensure that our community remains welcoming, inclusive, and supportive of students no matter where they are physically located?
Washington College of Law is committed to ensuring that all opportunities that are available on campus are also fully available in the online environment, so students can choose whether coming to campus is right for them.

Our faculty work diligently to design remote courses with the goal of bringing the energy of our classrooms, moot courtrooms, and lunchtime discussions to every member of our community.   Our courses will enable all students to: 1) gain the knowledge required within their degree; 2) have access to their courses from wherever they are; and 3) continue to move toward completing their law degree and achieving their academic goals.

Does WCL expect to be remote in the summer as well?
We are planning for a robust set of summer course offerings. Their format will depend on guidance from DC Health experts, but we are hopeful the summer will be exciting as we offer opportunities drawing on the special resources available in Washington, D.C.

Our goal is to resume on-campus operations in the summer, if we are able to do so while ensuring the safety and well-being of all community members. As always, your health and well-being come first, and we make all decisions with the safety of the entire community in mind.

I'm an international student. What will my spring 2021 experience be like at WCL?
WCL will support you where you are this spring, and WCL faculty, administrators, and staff are mindful of the fact that international students are located worldwide and not everyone is in the same time zone as Washington, DC. We therefore will make our best efforts to accommodate the needs of each individual student and to ensure our international students thrive regardless of the challenges of the COVID-19. 

We recognize that international students continue to have pressing questions about the Spring semester, and we are committed to you. Please review the FAQs from the International Student and Scholar Services and contact the Office of International and Comparative Legal Studies with additional questions.

What are the current safety-related requirements being mandated by the District of Columbia that I should be aware of?
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has announced that all those in DC must wear a face covering at all times when leaving home with limited exceptions; this policy had already been adopted by AUWCL as a campus-wide rule. Additionally, anyone coming into DC from a high-risk area (who was not traveling for essential activities) should self-isolate for 14 days.  The DC Health Department has published a list of high-risk areas on coronavirus.dc.gov, which is updated every two weeks.

Tuition Policies and Fees

Will I receive a discount for any classes held entirely online this spring? What about discounts on fees?
We know that the ongoing pandemic presents serious financial challenges to all members of our community. In an effort to mitigate those challenges without compromising our educational and programmatic offerings, we will reduce Spring semester tuition by 5%. In addition, the SBA has decided to reduce the student activity fee by an additional 4% for a total Spring semester fee discount of 22%.

How will printing be handled? We received a $100 credit in prior semesters.
All students will have access to WCL printers located in the Yuma lobby, regardless of whether they have reserved study space on campus. In addition, WCL has arranged a discount for all print services at any FedEx service center anywhere in the United States with your WCL ID.

Teaching and Learning Online This Spring

What is WCL doing to ensure its online courses will provide a high-quality learning experience?
WCL has a track record of successful remote teaching and, unlike most other law schools, has an Office of Online Learning that works with professors to create engaging online classes. The online experience is different from an in-person class, but we’re working to support the learning objectives professors have identified for each of our courses and to ensure students will be able to thrive in an engaging online setting.

Since Summer 2020, WCL professors have participated in training sessions to learn the best ways to transition their classes online. Professors also had the opportunity to meet with instructional designers to review their course plans and consider how to engage students and ensure learning outcomes for each unique course.

What time of day will classes be held? What if I am in a different time zone?
Most classes will have a mix of pre-recorded asynchronous material and live virtual sessions.  The asynchronous material can be completed whenever is convenient for the student.  The live sessions will be held at their regularly scheduled time, which students can find on the Registrar’s website. Students are expected to attend all live virtual sessions just as in an entirely in-person semester.

How am I going to be assessed if everything is online? Will it all be Honor Code-based? Will courses be graded?
For all WCL JD and LL.M. courses, grading has returned to normal. This decision keeps WCL consistent with other local and national law schools and will afford our students the strongest foundation from which to seek professional opportunities. Although the University has announced some changes to its grading policies, those changes will apply only to MLS courses and not to JD or LL.M. courses.

Please check the syllabi for your courses, as each professor will specify the assessment method for his/her/their course.

Will any exams be in person?
All examinations will be given online for Spring 2021.

Are there changes to the Academic Calendar for this spring?
As President Burwell announced to the AU community, the University has canceled Spring break because of the potential health concerns related to potential travel during that period. This cancellation extends to WCL. WCL’s Spring semester began on schedule, on Monday, January 11. In addition to regularly scheduled days off (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Inauguration Day), the law school has added five additional days off throughout the semester for students to be able to recharge. The full academic calendar is available on the Registrar’s website.

What does this change in schedule mean for journal selection?
We recognize that the new schedule will mean that the journal write-on cannot follow its typical timeline. WCL’s Joint Journal Committee announced a new schedule for the write-on; for more details contact the JJC at jjc@wcl.american.edu.

What if I don’t have reliable Wi-Fi or computer equipment?
For technical advice on computers and Wi-Fi/internet connections, contact the help desk at helpdesk@wcl.american.edu.

Eligible students seeking additional federal loan funds as a reimbursement for a computer or equipment purchase may contact the AUWCL Financial Aid Office at finaid@wcl.american.edu for more information. 

Will I be able to participate in my clinic or externship during the Spring 2021?
All clinical courses will be held, as planned, during the Spring 2021 semester. The clinic faculty have made appropriate adjustments to ensure that students will have meaningful opportunities to engage in client-based work and to develop critical lawyering skills.  More than 200 students are enrolled in clinics for the 2020-21 academic year.

The Annual AUWCL Externship Fair will be held remotely this year and is currently scheduled for the afternoons of January 26 and 27. At this time we anticipate that students will be able to extern remotely or on site during the Spring semester, provided certain requirements are met. Field placements hiring students to work remotely will have to agree to requirements intended to ensure students have a productive experience, akin to working on site. This includes weekly video conferences, and regular supervision via telephone.

Field placements hiring students to work on site will be required to provide a statement describing their compliance with DC or state regulations regarding distancing and other COVID-related matters. They must also have a plan in place that will permit students to work remotely should the workplace shut down mid-semester. Students may create a hybrid work environment in which they work some hours on site and other hours remotely. Please contact the Externship Office (externship@wcl.american.edu) for additional details.

Will all classes, regardless of format, be recorded? How long will we have access to those recordings?
Yes, classes will all be recorded and made available to students.  The recordings are usually available through the end of the semester.