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Fall 2020 Planning Current Students

June 25, 2020

Golkin Hall Exterior
Golkin Hall Exterior

Dean Ruger writes to the students to provide some information about the plan for the fall semester at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

Dear Law Students,

Following this afternoon’s email from University leadership, I write to provide some information about our plan for the fall semester at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

All of us at the Law School look forward to the start of an engaging and productive year, even as COVID-19 continues to demand very real changes to campus life. Because our highest priority is to protect the health and safety of our community, we will follow all applicable government and University guidelines for appropriate social distancing, use of our facilities, and personal conduct. This means that the fall will look somewhat different than previous semesters at the Law School, and it may look different at different points throughout the semester as we adapt our policies and curriculum to meet changing public health circumstances. Nevertheless, we remain committed to providing you with the very best legal education. The remainder of this email outlines our current plan for the fall semester.

  • First, we will offer a mix of in-person and remote instruction. Our fall classes will be offered in a range of formats, from fully remote to in person. Because of class-size constraints, however, we anticipate that even “in-person” classes may include some amount of remote instruction. Registration will begin on June 29 and remain open through July 17; registration materials will indicate whether a class will include an in-person component or will be conducted fully remotely. Whether a class has been scheduled to run remotely or to include an in-person component has been determined by a range of factors including classroom capacity, classroom availability, University and Law School policy limiting frequent travel to campus from areas outside of Philadelphia, and individual faculty needs and preferences arising from the current public health environment. Classes will be graded under the Law School’s ordinary grading system.
  • Second, we will offer students the ability to use designated Law School facilities for studying and remote class attendance. When the fall semester begins, we will make designated spaces on the Law School campus available for students to study and to attend remote classes. This space will be offered on a reservation-only basis and will be subject to social distancing and other facilities usage rules that will limit our study-space capacity relative to previous semesters.
  • Third, students, faculty, and staff who return to campus will be required to follow University public health and safety guidelines. These guidelines are still under development, but we expect that they will include mandatory testing, health monitoring and reporting, and contact tracing. Masking and social distancing will be required at all times while on the Penn campus, including all indoor and outdoor spaces at the Law School. These guidelines are codified in the University’s Student Campus Compact. Law students will be bound by the Student Campus Compact.

    Within the Law School, we will have assigned seating for in-person classes, provide sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizers throughout our physical spaces, and structure all in-person interactions according to public health and University guidance. While we are supporting student leaders in finding ways to continue our vibrant social and community life, in-person extracurricular events will be restricted, rare, and limited to 25 people.
  • Fourth, all in-person instruction and activities will begin on September 8 and end on November 25. The fall semester is still scheduled to begin after Labor Day, on September 8. In-person attendance will end on Wednesday, November 25, before the Thanksgiving break. All classes after Thanksgiving will occur remotely, and all exams will take place remotely. Students who travel over the Thanksgiving break should not plan to return to campus until after the winter break.
  • Finally, students who need or prefer to participate fully remotely have the option to do so. Students are not required to return to Philadelphia to complete the fall semester. Concurrently with fall registration, students will be asked to elect “in-person” or “fully remote” status for the fall. Fully remote students will have the opportunity to register for and participate in fall courses, including those with an in-person component, and will have the opportunity to engage in a broad range of career, public interest, professional development, and co-curricular programming remotely. In deciding whether to return to Philadelphia, students should take time zones into account, as fully remote students will be expected to attend class synchronously.

We understand that these circumstances and this plan greatly impact the decisions you will need to make for the next several months. You can find answers to frequently asked questions about the fall plan here. We will continue to provide more concrete information and pass along updates from the University as they become available, and we continue to welcome your input. Please send your comments, suggestions, and questions to us by emailing

Amidst the unprecedented challenges of returning to campus life during a pandemic, we believe that this plan optimizes our ability to continue our exceptional educational program while accommodating the wide range of individual circumstances and concerns of our students, faculty, and staff. Our faculty and staff are fully engaged in this effort. They are hard at work this summer training for online and hybrid teaching and adapting their courses and programs to ensure that we will continue to offer the highest quality instruction and individualized support for all of our students in the fall.

I look forward to welcoming you back then.


Ted Ruger
Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law