Last updated 9/23/20

Frequently asked questions pertaining to UW Law faculty & staff for the Fall 2020 semester. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

For more general information about the UW Law School's Fall 2020 semester, view the Student FAQs (COVID-19).

Fall 2020 Instruction

Has the Law School or the ABA relaxed attendance requirements for the Fall 2020 term?

No, regular class attendance is required as always.

However students who feel ill with symptoms of COVID-19 or any other illness should stay home. This means they may not be allowed to come to the Law Building to access the Internet for remote instruction. Students should communicate absences to their instructors pursuant to the course attendance policy.

If an emergency arises that might lead to a long-term absence, the student should contact Assistant Dean Emily Kite for assistance. Instructors should also consult with Dean Kite as necessary – especially if a student is repeatedly absent.

Why has the Law School directed that all class sessions be recorded?

The University has asked students to be cautious about coming to campus if they feel unwell or have symptoms of COVID. Students may be coming to campus to attend in-person courses or in order to access University Wi-Fi for online courses. We want to remove the apprehension that missing a class session will cause a student to fall behind.

Regardless of the course delivery method, the pandemic has introduced uncertainties into students’ lives and personal schedules that might unexpectedly disrupt their ability to participate in an online class session or attend class in person.

There are a number of reasons why students may need to miss class, including:

  • Students experiencing potential disruptions that impact their ability to attend in-person or synchronous online courses, such as having young children at home instead of in school or daycare.
  • Students experiencing unreliable Internet connection and bandwidth issues from time to time. These issues are very hard to predict or rectify while a synchronous lecture is in progress. 
  • Students with learning issues that make comprehension more difficult in online learning. Being able to review recorded lectures is a great benefit to these students.
  • Students who will be required to quarantine or isolate. This circumstance could even further disrupt their previous plans to access an online course in real time with a reliable Internet connection.

Please make sure your students know where and how to access recorded class sessions.

What are students being told about handling their classes if they become ill?

Students are being told they should be in regular contact with their instructors and should notify them in the event that they are unable to complete their coursework as planned. The instructor will work with the student to provide alternative ways to complete the work. Instructors should also consult with Assistant Dean Emily Kite as necessary.

UW has implemented a campus-based contact tracing program. Any person who may have come into contact with an infected student, faculty member or staff will be notified so that they can self-quarantine.

What types of final exam formats are available for Fall 2020 courses?

Per University policy, there will be no in-person course activities—including exams—after the Thanksgiving recess.

It is currently anticipated that instructors will have the option to administer either:

  • A typical Law School (non-proctored) online take-home exam, or
  • An online take-home exam that employs a University-approved, digital exam proctoring tool called "Honorlock"

Instructors interested in using Honorlock should include a notice to students in their syllabi, including the advisory language as set out in the Law School Course Syllabus Template (Word Document).

In-Person Instruction

Update 9/23/20: Some in-person classes will resume beginning Sept. 26, following a two-week pause to prevent the spread of COVID. Course instructors will reach out to students with details.

What should I do if my course enrollment exceeds my assigned classroom’s student seating capacity?

You will need to devise a schedule for required in-person attendance by your students on some “alternating” basis and communicate this to your students.

If your enrollment is close to the room capacity, monitor it closely. Through students dropping the course, a reduced enrollment might eventually eliminate the need for alternating attendance.

I teach a course that meets in person (either entirely or partially), but I would like to significantly reduce my in-person sessions. May I do this?

If you are contemplating a significant change to your in-person course delivery, please consult with Associate Dean Kevin Kelly prior to announcing any change to your students.

What have students been told about attendance this term?

For in-person courses and remote courses that are synchronously delivered, regular attendance is required. For those in-person courses with alternate attendance due to classroom capacity and physical distancing, students are expected to attend in person on the attendance schedule as determined by the instructor.

For in-person courses that have some students attending asynchronously, those students must view all online course content and follow the instructor’s additional requirements regarding checking in for regular and substantive engagement.

While regular attendance is required, students who feel ill with symptoms of COVID-19 or any other illness should stay home.  They should communicate absences to their instructor pursuant to the instructor’s attendance policy. If an emergency arises that might lead to a long-term absence, the student should contact Assistant Dean Emily Kite for assistance. Instructors should also consult with Dean Kite as necessary, especially if a student is repeatedly absent.

I teach an in-person course without a remotely-delivered option. What if a student asks to start taking my course remotely?

You have the right to decline such a request. Students were given the opportunity during the summer and throughout the add-drop period to take only courses with remote options.

Note: Exceptions would need to be made in the case of student illness, quarantine, or other compelling longer-term absence circumstances. In these cases, an instructor would be expected to work with the absent student to an appropriate degree while the absence lasted.

Should you wish, you may allow students to take your in-person course remotely.  Please exercise care before promising this, as there are technical and academic logistics that would need to be addressed. You would also have to ensure that the in-person experience for other students is preserved. Please contact Lauren Devine if you are thinking about granting such a request. 

Remote Instruction

What have students been told about attendance this term, especially for remote courses?

For in-person courses and remote courses that are synchronously delivered, regular attendance is required. For those in-person courses with alternate attendance due to classroom capacity and physical distancing, students are expected to attend in person on the attendance schedule as determined by the instructor.

For courses that are asynchronously delivered, students must view all online course content and follow the instructor’s additional requirements regarding checking in for regular and substantive engagement.

While regular attendance is required, students who feel ill with symptoms of COVID-19 or any other illness should stay home.  They should communicate absences to their instructor pursuant to the instructor’s attendance policy. If an emergency arises that might lead to a long-term absence, the student should contact Assistant Dean Emily Kite for assistance. Instructors should also consult with Dean Kite as necessary, especially if a student is repeatedly absent.

Some or all of my students attend asynchronously. What am I required do to check in with them?

Regular and substantive student-instructor interaction is a requirement of the Law School, ABA, and for all UW-Madison for-credit learning activities.

You should make clear to your asynchronous students how you plan to have “regular and substantive interaction” with them and regularly monitor their effort. There are many ways to accomplish this, including online office hours, discussion boards, assignments, quizzes, etc. See the section on “Asynchronous Participation Options” under Step 2: Plan Your Student Engagement/Interaction of the Guidelines & Toolkits for Remote Instruction for a full list of ideas.

However you decide to conduct regular and substantive interaction with your asynchronous students, you should make it a requirement for them. The Law School Dean’s Office does not view it as sufficient that students would simply have an "opportunity" to interact with you. Students must actually interact with you on some regular basis so that you can monitor their effort and engagement in the course.

Where can I get more information for planning and teaching a remote instruction course?

The Law School's Excellence in Alternative Delivery Working Group put together the Guidelines & Toolkits for Remote Instruction to provide tools and resources for instructors planning a remote course.

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