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A Look Forward to Fall 2020: A Letter from Dean Johnson

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives. Worried about our families, our health, our futures, people throughout the world are united as perhaps never before in concern and uncertainty.

In short measure, we have all become amateur virologists, epidemiologists, economists, public health experts, and futurists.

I am none of these things. I am a tax lawyer by trade and a law school dean and professor by good fortune. I am so proud of what the outstanding faculty, staff, and students here at Widener University Commonwealth Law School have been able to do in its pivot to online learning. They worked full tilt during this unprecedented public health crisis to convert a traditional law school into an online and interactive content delivery institution, all while preserving the very special human touch for which our law school is known.

This abrupt change has not been easy, especially for our students. As they finish up the semester and their final exams, the third years face a two-month delay to take the bar exam. All of them grapple with a changed opportunity and employment landscape. 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently announced a partial “reopening” in the northwestern and northcentral parts of the Commonwealth beginning on May 8. We hear that this will be followed by a similar move here in the central part of the state

Today, however, all schools statewide remain closed for the rest of the academic year, and visitation restrictions on prisons and nursing homes remain in place. Pennsylvania requires people wear masks in public.

At the outset of this crisis, I convened a working group at the law school composed of leadership among our faculty and staff. Shortly, we will be inviting members of the Widener Law Commonwealth Student Bar Association to join us as we plan for the fall.

This working group operates in the hope and belief that the Widener Law Commonwealth community can be back on campus in the fall. When we return, we know we will operate much differently from the place we left in such a hurry in mid-March.

Below you will find the recommendations that this law school working group makes today. We will update them as frequently as necessary in the days and weeks to come.

In closing, please know that I and every member of the Widener Law Commonwealth community consider you and your loved ones to be family. We would do nothing at the law school that we would not do at our homes and value the safety of our students, staff, and faculty above all else.

In these uncharted times, all we can promise is that we will be honest and do our best. Our futures are intertwined.

In service,

Christian A. Johnson, Dean (May 6, 2020)

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE WIDENER LAW COMMONWEALTH COVID-19 Working Group:
  1. In the face of sometimes extenuating and often challenging circumstances, we are committed to preserving and building on our defining and most valued feature – our sense of community and family. No matter what, we are #StillWidener!
  2. There will be no summer classes or events on campus.
  3. Any move to resume on-campus operations will be made only after state and local authorities lift restrictions on business and school openings, and once Widener Law Commonwealth concludes that safeguards can be put in place to minimize health risks from COVID-19 to the entire law school community. 
  4. When we welcome students back on campus, the following are just a few of the changes we recommend:
  • We will limit the size of group gatherings;
  • We will adjust class schedules and sizes to utilize our extensive, 23-acre campus facilities while encouraging social distancing;
  • We will closely manage all visitors to campus buildings;
  • We will enforce guidelines for face coverings and aggressive cleaning schedules for our facilities;
  • We will stringently adhere to all required screening, testing and interventions related to COVID-19;
  • We will conform to federal, state and local government guidance, the emerging work of the Governor’s Paths Forward in Education reopening task force, and all of Widener University policies and directives to manage the challenges this contagion continues to pose.

Visit Widener Law Commonwealth's Coronavirus page for additional information.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Randi Teplitz
Assistant Dean of Students
Phone: 
717.541.3952
Email: 
[email protected]

Related Widener University Page


widener.edu/coronavirus



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