3/11/20: Coronavirus Update / Message from the Dean


Dear Southwestern Students:

I’m writing to share news of a very difficult decision we have made in light of the worsening coronavirus situation. Although at this time there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Southwestern community, the global, domestic, and local coronavirus presence has continued to worsen, with the World Health Organization today labeling the coronavirus a global pandemic. To protect the Southwestern community and out of an abundance of caution, Southwestern will be suspending on-campus classes at least through April 10.  Instruction will continue remotely through Zoom, the school’s preferred video conferencing platform.  Here are the details on the transition:

  1. All Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 classes are canceled. This provides additional time for students and faculty to prepare to transition to Zoom. (There will be no classes, on-campus or via Zoom, on either of these two days.)
  2. Starting Wednesday, March 18, all classes will be taught remotely, on their usual days and regular timesvia Zoom.  
  3. Classes will continue to meet via Zoom at their usual days and times at least through April 10. 
  4. Remaining midterm exams will be administered remotely as take-homes or online.  Further information regarding midterms will be sent to you separately.

The Southwestern campus is currently open to Southwestern students, faculty, and staff and will remain so until further notice.  

What Do You Need To Do To Prepare For the Transition to Remote Learning via Zoom?

It is important for you to carefully review the instructions below now, or very soon, so that you can be sure that you will be able to access and use the Zoom video conferencing platform.

  1. Ensure your computer's connection to the Internet meets the recommended bandwidth requirements of 3 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.  This can be tested by going to https://speedtest.net
  2. Test your computer's speakers, microphone, and the ability to join a Zoom meeting in advance, so you can make adjustments prior to the start of remote classes.  You can join a test Zoom meeting anytime by visiting http://zoom.us/test
  3. If you do not have a computer, you can either (1) attend a Zoom class via your smartphone.  (To do this, you will need to download the Zoom mobile app for iPhone or Android.  These are available under the “Download” section at the bottom of the Zoom webpage at http://zoom.us ) or (2) purchase a headset and microphone and use it at one of the computers in the Library’s Learning Centers.
  4. Train on Zoom.  See tutorial links below.
  5. To participate in each class, you will need to enter a Zoom "Meeting ID" or URL for each course.  These will be posted on the Canvas page for each course by 5 pm on Monday, March 16th.
  6. Find a quiet environment free of noise and distractions for attending your class online.

Zoom video tutorial and resources:

If you have any IT-related questions or concerns, don’t wait until the day of your first Zoom class ---- please submit an IT ticket.

Other Important Messages

We have taken a number of steps to support the health of the Southwestern Community  by impeding the spread of the coronavirus, including adopting the following public health measures which apply to students, faculty, and staff alike:

  • If you are sick or have flu-like symptoms you are not permitted to come to school.  If you are even mildly sick, you should remain home until you are free of fever (100.4° F or greater) and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering cough suppressants.    
  • All who are returning from countries with CDC Travel Health Notices of Level 2 or Level 3 are not permitted to return to campus for 14 days after their return. Currently, this list includes China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Japan. Any individual who has recently visited one or more of these countries is required to contact Marcie Canal via email at mcanal@swlaw.edu immediately upon their return to the United States. To keep up to date on the latest Travel Health Notices from the CDC, go to https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.
  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you are not permitted to return to campus until public health officials have determined you are safe to return.
  • If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you are not permitted on campus for 14 days from the day of your last exposure and you are free of any signs of illness.
  • We discourage personal travel internationally or to currently impacted regions.

In addition, we have canceled the events of other organizations that had planned to use our facilities, as well as a number of our own events, all with the goal of impeding the spread of the coronavirus.  We will continue this process in the weeks to come.

Attendance Policy

Southwestern’s Attendance Policy will continue to apply to participation in remote classes.  Given the coronavirus pandemic, we do understand that the circumstances of some individual students will require greater flexibility in the application of our Attendance Policy.  As noted in my email last week, medical reasons for an absence are given great weight in the application of the Policy.  However, please understand that flexibility is unlikely to be extended to any individual who exhibits a lack of honesty and truthfulness.


Visit swlaw.edu/covid19 for Southwestern's communications related to COVID-19, tips on how you can keep yourself and others healthy, FAQs, and links to several public health agencies. 

 If you have questions that relate to how to navigate this unusual period, or if you are not sure what you should do in a particular context, I urge you to contact the Dean of Students Office at deanofstudents@swlaw.edu or Vice Dean Dov Waisman at dwaisman@swlaw.edu.


As Southwestern’s Dean, I have the responsibility of furthering the common goal of each one of our students -- the goal of becoming a lawyer.  The unusual challenge presented by this new virus is that we must balance pursuing our core mission with serious concerns about health and safety.  To achieve both goals we really do need your help.  Fortunately, we live in a time when technology can help us enable you to continue pursuing your goals. (It won’t be perfect and at times it probably won’t be pretty, but it will enable you to complete this term---for some of you your final one, and for others the completion of the first year.)   But in the context of this public health crisis, we must also depend on you not only to continue to self-monitor your health but also to share with us pertinent information that bears on Southwestern’s ability to make wise judgments, ones that will further your professional goals but will also take into account the reality of a worldwide health emergency.

I’m sure that leaping into the world of all distance with little lead time won’t be perfect.   At times it’s likely to be downright ugly, but I comfort myself with this:  Southwestern is filled with “can do” people, faculty, staff, and students -- and we share a common goal -- your legal education and the impact you will have on your clients over the decades to come.  

Together, we will get this job done.

All the best,
Dean Susan