Spring classes go online March 23, commencement canceled

In accordance with guidance from the University System of Maryland, Maryland Carey Law has canceled or postponed all spring law school events and will offer courses online for the remainder of the 2019-2020 spring semester. All school-related out-of-state travel is also prohibited. Additionally, the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s May commencement is canceled. The law school has also postponed its hooding ceremony, and is exploring ways to celebrate 2020 graduates virtually.

As with many other law schools and educational institutions in the nation, these extraordinary protocols are in place to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, which has reached the level of a pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.

“Our top priority is the safety of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Maryland Carey Law Dean Donald B. Tobin. “During this difficult time, we are committed to continuing to serve our students through remote learning and ongoing innovation.”

When students left the building for spring break on March 13, they were prepared to receive virtual instruction via videoconferencing programs, such as WebEx, when classes resume on March 23. Maryland Carey Law faculty have also set up virtual office hours so they will remain available to students.

Though these measures are unprecedented on this scale, the law school does have some experience with a quick shift to a remote learning environment, having done so during the 2015 unrest in Baltimore  following the death of Freddie Gray.

“We successfully delivered exams online in spring 2015,” remembers Tobin. “I am confident we will provide what students need to finish the semester and, for our 3Ls, to graduate.”

While the University of Maryland, Baltimore is still officially open, the law school building is only accessible to a small number of essential employees. All others whose jobs allow have been enabled to work remotely.

This includes continuing to provide important services that go beyond classroom instruction for students.

Career Development Office staff are busy conducting student counseling sessions and webinars as students prepare for summer and post-graduation employment. The Admissions Office is offering a virtual Admitted Students Day and a host of online resources, including chat sessions with current students, virtual tours, and visits to online classes.

Other areas, including Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Development and Alumni Relations, Communications, and the Library continue operations at the highest levels possible in remote work environments. And Technology Services is tirelessly supporting users as they rely on technology as never before.

Additionally, the law school’s faculty continues to lend their expertise to help citizens understand the legal issues surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. Staff at the Center for Health and Homeland Security, including Professor Michael Greenberger and Public Health Program Director Trudy Henson have responded to a flood of interview requests from local and national media outlets. The center also offers frequent COVID-19 updates on its website.

"I have been extremely gratified by the strength and commitment of our Maryland Carey Law community,” says Tobin who, himself, will begin teaching a class remotely the week of March 23-27. “Together, we will get through this public health crisis and perhaps emerge stronger for our collaborative effort.”

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