6/8/21 - Plans for Fall 2021 Instruction


Check your email for a June 8, 2021, message from Vice Dean Waisman for links to the below-referenced forms.

Dear Southwestern Students,

We hope you are doing well and enjoying the first few weeks of summer break. 

We’re writing to provide an update on our plans for fall 2021 instruction at Southwestern (including SCALE Periods 2 and 5). 

Please read this entire communication carefully and note the July 2 and July 23 deadlines.

A Hopeful and Improving Pandemic Picture

The pandemic picture in Southern California continues to improve, with all key indicators—cases, test positivity, hospitalizations, and deaths—low and decreasing.  Meanwhile, more and more people are getting vaccinated. In Los Angeles County, 64% of the 16-and-over population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 53% of the same population has been fully vaccinated. In April, Governor Newsom announced a plan to fully reopen the California economy on June 15, provided that the vaccine supply remains adequate and that hospitalizations remain stable and low. Both conditions appear to be holding.

Our Plan for Fall 2021 Instruction at Southwestern

In light of these positive developments, we are very pleased to announce that we plan and expect to return to full in-person instruction at Southwestern when the fall 2021 term starts in August (this includes SCALE Periods 2 and 5).  All fall classes will meet in person and on campus, except for some in our evening program and the small handful of other classes that we offer remotely under normal circumstances.   We will not be offering a general option for remote learning. Starting this fall, students will be expected to attend their classes in person and should plan accordingly.

Our plan to return fully to in-person instruction is contingent on the pandemic picture continuing to remain positive and on Los Angeles County permitting institutions of higher learning to conduct in-person classes with no capacity restriction on classrooms and no physical distancing requirement. If the pandemic takes a turn for the worse between now and August, or if Los Angeles County does not adjust its orders as expected, a return to full in-person instruction may not be possible. In that event, we will likely conduct all large and most smaller classes remotely.

Keeping Our Community Healthy and Safe: Vaccination Requirement and July 2 & July 23 Deadlines

Our campus will be fully compliant with Cal/OSHA requirements and all other applicable health and safety requirements. All classrooms, offices, and other indoor spaces will be well-ventilated and regularly cleaned. The air in our classrooms and other indoor spaces will be filtered using a high-quality filtration system. However, the most important thing that any of us can do to protect the health and safety of our community is to get vaccinated.  As announced on May 26 and May 27, all Southwestern students, faculty, and staff are required to be vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination by 12 pm on Friday, July 2 (rising 2Ls, 3Ls, or 4Ls) and 12 pm on Friday, July 23 (entering 1Ls).

Students wishing to request an exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical, religious, or personal reasons must complete an exemption request form and engage in an interactive process with the Southwestern administration to determine whether the request is appropriate, whether additional documentation or materials are necessary to support the request, and whether the exemption and any requested modification can be granted without posing an undue hardship to Southwestern or fundamentally altering the program of legal education. The completed exemption form is also due by 12 pm on Friday, July 2 (for rising 2Ls, 3Ls, or 4Ls) and 12 pm on Friday, July 23 (for entering 1Ls).   Students who are pregnant or breastfeeding may request a medical exemption on that basis. Please keep in mind that the exemption for personal reasons will no longer be available once at least one of the vaccines receives full FDA approval. 

If you have not yet provided proof of vaccination or completed an exemption request form, please do so at your earliest convenience. Proof of complete vaccination (e.g., both injections for Pfizer and Moderna) must be submitted by completing the Southwestern Student COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Form (for rising 2Ls, 3Ls, or 4Ls) or the Southwestern Admitted Student Covid-19 Proof of Vaccination Form (for entering 1Ls) and uploading a copy of the front of a CDC vaccination card or certification from a medical provider. The exemption request forms are here: Southwestern Student COVID-19 Vaccine Exemption Request Form (for rising 2Ls, 3Ls, or 4Ls) and Southwestern Admitted Student Covid-19 Vaccine Exemption Request Form (for entering 1Ls).

Students with qualifying exemptions from the vaccination requirement may be required, as a condition of being on campus, to undergo frequent testing, use personal protective equipment, and take any other actions Southwestern deems necessary to protect the health and safety of our community.   Exempt students will not be permitted to participate remotely in their classes, with the possible exception of students with qualifying medical circumstances that cannot be addressed in another way.

If you have any questions regarding fall instruction, please direct them to Vice Dean Waisman at dwaisman@swlaw.edu or Vice Dean Gharakhanian at agharakhanian@swlaw.edu.

We are thrilled to share our plan for a return to in-person classes and cannot wait to see all of you back on campus this fall. Please stay tuned for additional information in the coming weeks.

Have a wonderful summer!


Dean Susan Prager, Vice Dean Anahid Gharakhanian, and Vice Dean Dov Waisman