Coastal Law Community,
On June 5, 2020 we announced that we would hold classes and other law school activities on campus for the Fall Semester. Our primary concern is the health and safety of our students, staff, faculty and their families. Over the last several weeks we have watched the state of Florida average over 10,000 new cases per day and many of the state’s hospitals are at full capacity. Cases and hospitalizations in Northeast Florida have surged similar to those of the state as a whole. We have reviewed the CDC guidelines, reviewed the plans of other schools, evaluated our campus technology, and noted that teachers have filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s order for public schools to open on time. Based upon a careful assessment of the various factors and public health data, we have decided that the best course of action given the facts is to conduct courses fully online for the Fall 2020 semester. We did not come to this decision easily. We have used data and input from healthcare experts here in Jacksonville to reach this determination. We take this path with the best interests of our students, staff, faculty and their families foremost of mind.
We are confident that the educational experience for our students will be of the highest quality. Our experience with the abrupt shift to online in the spring confirmed the ability of our faculty to provide a strong teaching and learning environment online. The student evaluations from the spring term bear this out. We are laser focused on ensuring that the student experience is as close to normal as possible. We have upgraded and enhanced our technology so that students will have full access to all classes, presentations and programs. Students will have access to recordings of classes and presentations through lecture capture software. We will be providing students access to dozens of online study aids that you would otherwise have to purchase. Faculty availability for students will be no different than when we are on campus. Student organizations will conduct all their usual activities and all programs will be delivered by Zoom. Additional presentations for the school will be offered and easily accessed by all.
Although classes and other activities will be online, the Law Library will be open so that we can provide students who are in Jacksonville a safe, quiet place to study. We will also allow access to a few classrooms for students to take their synchronous classes in a safe, quiet space. We will implement enhanced sanitizing of all open areas of the campus. Face coverings will be required throughout the campus. We are planning to deliver to everyone planning to be on campus an app that will allow for daily COVID screening information. Plexiglass shields will be in place at the SYNC Desk in the Library and in several locations in the Deans Suite. There will be signage for social distancing in the elevators and other areas of the school. In addition, we are developing other policies and protocol to respond to any positive tests or illnesses within our community. We will do contact tracing when necessary and appropriate in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health.
During the Fall Semester we will be installing further technology upgrades and classroom preparations in anticipation of being able to safely return to campus for the Spring 2021 Semester. If that proves safely feasible, we will continue to allow those who are not comfortable, for health and safety reasons, being on campus to take all their classes online.
We will continue to survey students during the coming weeks and during the course of the Fall Semester to determine what other services, programs, and support will add to the overall student learning and educational experience at Coastal Law. Please follow all the guidelines and suggestions from health officials. And, please stay safe and healthy.