Students

Pitt Law School classes for the fall semester will begin on Monday, August, 24, 2020. We are looking forward to welcoming back our students to campus or joining us remotely as the School operates under the Flex@Pitt model of teaching and learning. The Law School administration continues to work in close partnership with the University as the fall semester begins and will continue to closely monitor public health conditions. It is critical that you regularly check back to this page and the coronavirus.pitt.edu for further updates.

While the following list of policies is not exhaustive, our planning is ongoing and will be informed by the latest health guidance. We will continue to provide updates as they become available. In the meantime, please continue to check the COVID-19 sites for the Law School and the University and reach out with questions to lmdris@pitt.edu

Message from the Deans

As you have heard, Pitt is in the Elevated Risk posture until at least September 14th. This means that the undergraduate students will stay fully online and remote until at least that date.  As a professional graduate school, the law school is permitted to have certain (but not all) classes in person so long as we have significantly reduced the density in the building, we continue to follow all the required protocols, and we maintain a class size of 25 or smaller, including the instructor.

This list identifies the status of classes in the Elevated Risk posture that were to be held online in the Guarded Risk posture. A handful remain unknown. We are working to ascertain the status of those as quickly as we can. 

We are also approved to allow people into our building to study in the library. If you have an assigned study space in the library, you are welcome to study in the building during your assigned time in your assigned seat. If you are in a remote class and hope to have a place to watch that class in the law school, our most recent understanding is that we are limited by the current risk posture in what we may offer you. Thus, the classroom assignment Google Docs that Dean Hamoudi previously distributed will not be applicable, as those can only apply in Guarded Posture. You should still fill those out to the extent you are going to need a space in Guarded Posture, so we can plan for classroom space if and when we move to that posture.

During Elevated Posture, by contrast, we can only offer spaces to those students who have a remote class immediately before or after a class being taught in person in Elevated Status. If this is the case (and for this purpose you can assume a class where we do not know the status is going to be taught in person), we have asked that you fill out and submit a request to let us know that you will need a space in our building for your remote class. We will provide a list to those who sign up for spots after we receive and review all requests. As a reminder, only requests that included (1) the class you will be attending remotely and (2) the in person class adjacent to it can be accommodated during Elevated Posture.

We want to emphasize again that no one is required to come into the law school, and, indeed, we understand that you may wish to revisit a decision to be in person after the reports of risky behavior around campus and Pitt’s ensuing decision to stay in the Elevated Risk posture. We will continue to do everything we can to keep you safe at the law school, but we cannot eliminate all danger, and risks remain for those who choose to come onsite. Just like many of you, we, too, have had friends and family contract COVID19. It can be a very serious and even deadly virus. We have lost friends and family to it, and several others we know still suffer from serious medical issues that resulted from the virus. With this in mind, we ask you to make the very best decision for you and your family.

The Barco Law Building

Consistent with public health guidelines and the greater University, we have done whatever we can to de-densify the building. In order to bring students into the building for classes, most staff and faculty will work remotely for the semester. While you will come into the law school for in-person courses, you can expect our building to look and feel different. We are in the process of assigning seats for the classrooms and study spaces in the library. We’ve installed new signage throughout the buildings, including directions for moving through stairwells, elevators, and hallways. All doors will be open to circulate airflow and you are encouraged to enjoy the sunshine on the law school's patio. You won’t see people lingering in the halls chatting or waiting for office hours. We’ll expect everyone to pay attention to their surroundings and to one another.

Introducing Swipe Access

Here’s another change: you will use your Pitt ID card to enter the building. All staff, students and faculty will be required to enter through the main doors on the first floor of the building. Panther Central has modified the Panther Card (Pitt ID) services to ensure the safety and well-being of our Pitt community, effective immediately. If you need a new Panther Card, have lost your ID or if it’s ready to expire, please find helpful instructions here.

We are using this system for two reasons. First, it will allow us to track entrants to the building for the purpose of contact tracing. Second, it ensures that only members of our community can enter the building, thereby providing another level of protection against the spread of COVID-19.

Needless to say, this is a good example of how COVID-19 requires us all to rethink the way we interact with one another. For instance, this semester, a gracious gesture like holding the door for someone could unintentionally undermine our efforts to protect the community through contact tracing or allow in a visitor who has not complied with the University’s public health mandates. It is essential that everyone swipe their IDs and enter the building one-by-one.

Classrooms

We have reconfigured our classrooms to ensure social distancing. We have removed extra seating in existing classrooms and blocked off seating in the auditorium. While the classrooms will be cleaned daily, we will also provide disinfectant wipes for you to clean your desk and chair. Needless to say, you must wear masks in class, and food will not be allowed in the classroom.  We have created a seat reservation system for the library. You will be able to reserve a seat to study or participate in remote classes.

Consistent with COVID-19 protocols, we will use spaces and facilities in the building differently than we usually do:

  • Student Lounge — the Student Lounge on the Ground Floor will be limited high-top table and accessible seating to accommodate a small gathering of students
  • Restrooms — there is signage to wait for the restrooms on the first floor of the building and the main entrance, not including stalls, will be open for constant airflow. Please wait outside the restroom at least six feet apart for an available stall/sink.
  • Water stations — while water fountains are off limits, touchless bottle filling stations will be accessible. Again, please maintain six feet of separation while waiting for the filling stations.
  • The Computer Lab and the ALCOA Room have been turned into classrooms.
  • Lockers — lockers will be available, but students must keep a six-foot separation at all times. Returning students can keep the locker they were assigned last year (if you do not remember your locker number or no longer need a locker, please email lmdris@pitt.edu). For new students, your locker number will be listed on an index card for you.

The Library and Assigned Study Spaces

We are assigning a permanent study space in the library for the semester to those who have requested it. To maintain social distancing requirements, we have mapped and assigned a number to every study seat in the building. We then split the seats into pods. To understand how the process works, one example is that we can only have one person at each study table during a given timeframe. Because so many of our seats are in groups of four, the easiest way to split the seating is to have four pods.

In order to determine the study space timing, we took into account both that we have been advised not to have people spend long stretches in the building as well as the patterns that emerged from your preferred times. With required cleaning protocols and staffing requirements, our library space is available during the following hours:

  • Monday through Thursday: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday: noon to 8 p.m.

Locate your personal assigned study space in the library for the Fall Semester in the Student Sharepoint folder.