Updated August 14, 2020 

UofT LawYour 2020-2021 Law School Year


As we welcome you into your law school community, we ask that you monitor this page regularly for updates on the evolving plans for the academic year.

Looking Ahead: A Message from UofT President Meric Gertler
On May 18, Prof. Gertler outlined the careful and considerate balance between maintaining the interpersonal experience that students cherish with the undeniable need for personal and public health and safety. To learn more about the University's guiding principles for planning our recovery efforts, we encourage you to read the President's message.


FAQs on Teaching and Learning

First year students begin on August 24th.  Upper year students begin on September 8th.

 

PERSONAL & GENERAL SAFETY MEASURES

#1.   Will I need to wear a mask in class?

University policy is that students, staff and faculty will be required to wear a mask inside University buildings.

#2.   What if someone in my class tests positive for COVID?

The student who is ill should right away contact the Records office and inform the University’s health office at ehs.occhealth@utoronto.ca The University’s protocols will kick in and that office will conduct contact tracing and determine next steps. Students will be contacted by that office with instructions for what they need to do. If it is determined that everyone needs to go into quarantine, we will move the whole class online. More information about this proves is here.

#3.   What measures are the law school taking due to COVID-19 to keep students, staff, and faculty safe?

We're working hard to implement several safety measures to help students stay safe and healthy in our buildings. We are keeping up to date with public health guidelines and those issued by the University. We will be updating this page as the guidelines evolve. 

The law school's planned measures meet and, in some cases, exceed the recommendation set by public health officials.They include: 
  • Updated signs and floor decals that promote physical distancing, hand washing, maximum occupancy information, and other health and safety reminders. See more here. updated
  • Increased availability of hand sanitizers throughout the buildings. 
  • The University is requiring faculty, staff, and students to wear masks in indoor public spaces. See the details here
  • Provision of washable cloth masks to students, staff, and faculty. 
  • All spaces, especially high touch areas, are cleaned on a rigorous daily schedule. We have hired additional caretakers so that the buildings will have enhanced cleaning protocols that include disinfecting. 
  • The law school will be issuing key fobs to faculty, staff, and students who are coming to campus for classes. The building will be locked and entry will be controlled to maintain safe building occupancy. 
  • Additional physical distancing equipment, such as plexiglass barriers, are in place in areas following public health guidelines

#4.   Experts recommend MERV filters rated 13 or above to prevent COVID-19 in indoor spaces. Is the law school upgrading the central air system to comply?

The Jackman Law Building’s HVAC system already has MERV 13 filters. Most of the spaces in Flavelle House and Falconer Hall have windows that open.

#5.   How can I learn about the University’s plans for reopening?

The University has posted a roadmap for a safe UofT experience, which you can read here.

 

IN-PERSON or REMOTE ATTENDANCE  |  QUARANTINE

#1.   If I have to attend classes remotely in the fall, what sort of impact will this have on my overall law school experience?

Making connections with your classmates and professors is one of the great values of the UofT Law experience. We will make every effort to create opportunities for all students to connect with each other and the law school community.

If your health and living circumstances allow you to attend classes and other activities in person, we strongly recommend that you do so as much as possible. At the same time, we will provide excellent course content and meaningful learning opportunities to students who are working remotely. We will do our best to provide ample opportunities to connect with your peers.

We also remind everyone that while the first term of school is an important one, it represents one-sixth of your time at the Faculty. When we are able to fully reopen we will provide many opportunities for students to get together and share their experiences.

#2.   What is the deadline to indicate whether I am able to attend in-person?

We asked all 1L students to indicate whether or not they are planning to attend in-person by Friday July 17th.

#3.   I have selected online learning for the fall term, and was wondering about the percentage of the class that is learning online only?

As of mid-August, more than 90% of 1L students have opted to study in person.

#4.   If I opt for remote attendance can I switch to in-person attendance?

No. Once assigned remote attendance in any term, it will not be possible to switch to in-person attendance due to the physical distancing limitations of classrooms.

#5.   I opted for in-person classes. What if I have to be in quarantine when I arrive?

During their quarantine period students can attend classes remotely, and join the in-person classes when quarantine is complete.

#6.   I am an in-person student. What if I am unable to attend class on a particular day?

You should Zoom into the class with the link that the professor will give you at the start of the term. If you are unable to attend the scheduled class, you should ask one of your classmates for the lecture notes.

#7.    If we have decided to take our courses online, will our entire class be functioning online, or will it be a Zoom session of one of the in-person classes?

Probably both. Some of your professors may have also elected to teach remotely. If you happen to be in one of their classes, your entire class will be online (all participants will experience it online). In some of your other classes, you will Zoom into an in-person class.

#8.   If I do not attend in-person, will I be able to receive accessibility accommodations?

Students are eligible to receive academic accommodations regardless if they are attending in person or remotely. Please take a look at the law school’s academic accommodation policy, and visit the Accessibility Services web pages.

#9.   I’ve been admitted to a JD combined program, how am I affected?

For 1L admits, there is no difference with JD-only students. Your 2020-2021 year is exclusively at the law school.

 

STARTING OFF: O-WEEK & LEGAL METHODS

#1.   Will there be an Orientation (O-Week) in August for first year students?

Yes! We are working hard to put together a fabulous orientation experience that will have in-person and online elements.

#2.   Will Legal Methods and Orientation be in person or online?

This depends entirely on whether or not we have moved into Phase 3 of re-opening. For now, we are planning for both options and will let students know by August 17th.

#3.   When will we receive our Legal Methods and fall 2020 schedules?

We will send you your e.legal passwords and instructions for how to access your schedules on August 17th.

#4.   How will we get access to our building Fob (electronic key)?

We will give you your fob on the first day of Legal Methods. Students who are taking Legal Methods online will be contacted to make arrangements to pick up their fobs.

#5.   Will there be an equivalent welcome/meeting session for online students prior to the first Legal Methods course, or will we sign on for the first time when class begins?

If the scheduling allows it, we are hoping to offer welcome sessions for online students prior to their first Legal Methods class. You definitely will meet with your fellow “pod” members and your upper year pod leader prior to the first class.

#6.   I am an online-only student. Can I pick up my orientation package when I am back to school?

Yes! Please contact Sara-Marni Hubbard at sara.hubbard@utoronto.ca when you are ready to pick it up.

 

FALL & WINTER TERM SCHEDULES & INSTRUCTION

#1.   When will we receive our fall 2020 schedules?

We will send you your e.legal passwords and instructions for how to access your schedules on August 17th.

#2.   Will the mandatory 1L sessions (e.g. 1L ethics training) be accessible to online-only students?

Yes, all of the mandatory sessions for 1Ls will be accessible online.

#3.   What sorts of steps has the law school taken to schedule classes so that we can achieve physical distancing?

When establishing the 2020-2021 class schedule, we worked very hard to ensure that classes are spaced out to meet public health requirements for physical distancing and cleaning. This year, the classroom capacities are smaller. Class times are different, as they may start as early as 8:00 am and end as late as 6:30 pm, and will include classes on Fridays.

#4.   What proportion of my classes will be in person?

We have prioritized finding space for the first year classes, so, assuming that the public health authorities allow us to do so, most of your 1L classes will be in person with the possibility of some online components. The exception is if a professor chooses to teach exclusively remotely, then that course would be remote. Of course, if at some point during the term, public health authorities make recommendations against in person classes, we will follow those guidelines.

#5.   What if I miss a class? Can I access recordings of lectures?

Lectures are not recorded. The Faculty policy for students who miss classes in any academic year is to have them rely on a classmate’s notes.

#6.   What do I need to know to have a seamless transition to online learning at the law school?

Please take a look at online learning resources here (PDF document).

#7.   I live in another time zone. How will this impact my access to my online courses?

Students who live in different time zones will be expected to join the live lectures online as they are being delivered. This will allow for student participation and interaction which is critical to learning the law.

#8.   What if I have an online class that immediately precedes or follows an in-person class? Where will I go to take the online class?

Classrooms that are not being used for in-person classes will be reserved for students to attend online classes when they are unable to get home in time. Please obtain on-campus Wi-Fi access before classes begin, ideally by August 17th.

#9.   My classes start at 8 am and I have a long commute to school. Can I choose another schedule?

Unfortunately no. The class schedule is very complicated and it is very difficult to tailor students’ schedules to meet their individual needs.

#10.   Will Fall & Winter term courses be Pass/Fail?

No. At this time, we are planning for all courses to be fully graded.

#11.   What is happening with exams this year?

Exams will be written remotely. Exam writing space will be provided at Jackman for students who prefer to write on campus.

#12.   How will professor office hours work?

This will depend on the professor. Some will have on-line drop in times, others will book online meetings with students. Please check with your professors.

 

LAW SCHOOL BUILDING ACCESS & FACILITIES

#1.   What are the building hours?

DAYS
Monday to Friday access (maybe weekends once the library confirms its hours).

TIMES
Monday to Thursday access from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm
Friday access from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday no access

#2.   I have heard that in-person students will receive a fob (electronic key) to the law school. What is this and what is it for?

In order to monitor the number of people in the law school, we will keep the building doors locked and only those with key fobs will have access. In-person students will receive key fobs on their first day of Legal Methods. Online-only students will not receive key fobs.

#3.   Will I have full access to all the law school amenities and spaces like common rooms?

We’re implementing measures to ensure safe access to amenities and spaces. This includes enhanced cleaning, additional signage, limiting capacity, and spacing of furniture. We may be required to limit access to these spaces to students attending classes to achieve appropriate social distancing, as per public health guidelines.

#4.   Will the bookstore be open to buy textbooks?

Yes, the bookstore will be open. You can also purchase your books online.

#5.   Will the Goodmans café in the main atrium be open?

Unfortunately no. It will be closed for the foreseeable future.

#6.   Will we be allowed to eat in the law building?

Yes, you can eat in the common areas. There is a student kitchen (in the basement underneath the Rowell Room) with a fridge, sink, microwave and kettle.

#7.   When we find out about our lockers?

Very soon. We will send out your locker assignments before September 8.

#8.   Will non-law students be able to use the library?

No, only law students who have a fob can access the library space.

 

STUDENT LIFE, WELLNESS & STUDENT SERVICES

#1.   How will I connect with my classmates and build relationships while social distancing at the law school?

Our faculty and program staff are working hard to ensure students feel connected, engaged, and academically supported in their communities through fun, virtual events and small in-person activities.

#2.  Will attending remotely affect my access to the library and student activities?

Students attending remotely will access all aspects of their law school program in an online format. This includes library resources and extra-curricular and co-curricular activities.

#3.   I am finding that coping with the uncertainties of COVID-19 and returning to school quite stressful. What resources are available?

We understand that that these are very stressful times. Students can access counselling and other supports through Health & Wellness at the University. Please see a list of resources on our Health & Wellness web pages.

#4.   Will attending remotely impair my professional development?

Our faculty and program staff are working hard to ensure students feel connected, engaged, and academically supported in their communities through fun, virtual events and small in-person activities.

#5.   Will the faculty and student services staff offer remote office hours?

Yes. Information will be made available about how to book appointments.

#6.   What’s happening with the 1L volunteer opportunities? Are they being impacted by COVID?

Most of our in-house public interest programs and clinics will be offering volunteer positions to 1L students. We are expecting similar numbers to previous years. The only difference this year is that Downtown Legal Services, our big poverty law clinic, is not able to offer 1L volunteer positions. But they will offer positions next year for upper years so that you will not miss out.

#7.   Regarding extra-curriculars/volunteer activities, will all of them have an online option? If not, would I be allowed to come in person to any of them, even though I have selected online learning? (I do live in Toronto).

The large majority of our extra- and co-curricular activities will be accessible for both in–person and online-only students. Online-only students will not have access to the law school buildings and therefore cannot attend in person.

 

LAPTOP/COMPUTER REQUIREMENTS & ON-CAMPUS WI-FI

#1.   Should I upgrade my computer/laptop? Are there minimum technical requirements?

The University of Toronto has posted information about technical requirements and resources.

#2.   When should I set-up access to the campus Wi-Fi?

For access to need to obtain your T-Card and UTmail+ account. Please get them at least a full week before classes begin, ideally by August 17th, to allow time for central IT to troubleshoot any access problems.

 

HOUSING & TRANSIT

#1.   When should I consider looking for housing and moving to Toronto?

Our usual advice has not changed: you should start looking as soon as possible.

#2.   I am worried that I will be late for class because of COVID-related delays in the transit. What will I do on those circumstances?

Hopefully this won’t happen too often, but if it does, students should attend the class as soon as they can, and ask a classmate for the notes of the portion they missed.

#3.   I am planning to drive to the law school. What are the parking options?

See the options from UofT Transportation Services.

 

FEES & FINANCING

#1.   Will university fees vary according to attendance?

No.

#2.   Will the JD Financial Aid Program support vary based on remote or in person attendance?

No.