March 16, 2021

Dear Students and the Massachusetts School of Law Community,
At this time last year, institutions and students across the country moved to remote learning. It was a difficult time for everybody. Summer brought some relief and with students, faculty, and staff committing to protect each other’s safety, in the Fall we opened in a hybrid model so we all could keep our commitment to ourselves and the legal profession.

Despite your efforts to protect each other and our community, as the Fall 2020 semester drew to a close a spike in the virus was upon us. It became clear that until vaccines were in greater supply, our country would continue to experience high rates of infection and death. Fall examinations took place online and when classes resumed in January, MSLAW reopened to the public but all classes were offered remotely. It was our expectation that with vaccines becoming more readily available, we would resume in person and hybrid classes before the end of the semester.

Since many still have still not been offered the opportunity to get the vaccine, we have made the decision that classes will remain remote except for a few classes where in person advocacy is essential to the student’s professional development. These classes include Case Preparation, Motions and writing courses structured towards a final oral presentation. In April, professors teaching those classes will schedule the trials, oral arguments, and final presentations directly with their classes for students enrolled in those classes including those students precluded from attending MSLAW. Examinations will again be taken remotely through Examplify.

We will return to live instruction beginning with the first Summer session. Students choosing to take summer classes may return to live instruction in Andover if they have received their vaccination and supply proof of same to the Registrar’s office. Only students who have been vaccinated or have submitted satisfactory proof of a medical or religious exemption will be allowed on campus during the summer. The only class that can be taken remotely this Summer is Remedies.

As vaccines are becoming more readily available, our plan for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters envisions returning to a normal Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semester on campus. Based on your efforts to protect the campus community this academic year, and the progress made nationally and in the Commonwealth towards vaccinating the citizenry, we are now safer and significantly closer towards returning to what would be defined as pre-COVID normal. With that outlook in mind, and knowing it is likely some precautions will remain, we are planning for Fall 2021 classes to be in-person (except for our online classes and hybrid classes), and our campus returning to a more normal experience.

It is with great pleasure we welcome you back to campus. Hopefully, you are as excited as we are at our plans to be fully open. The Fall 2021 semester will look as close to Fall 2019 as possible but with some minor changes as we have all learned much during the last two years. As in years past, only a few remote-only classes will be offered next Fall with eligible students allowed to take only one such course each semester. We will continue to offer some hybrid courses which will be listed as such on the registration form.

As we have throughout, we will continue to watch the health and safety impacts of COVID-19, and to keep an eye on guidelines set forth by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Centers for Disease Control. Finally, on June 4th at 5:00 P.M. we will be honoring the class of 2021 in a manner similar to what we did last year at MSLAW with a drive through ceremony. This year graduates may attend with one additional car with family members and guests —or party bus—and exit their vehicle to formally receive their diploma and have their picture taken with the Deans, family members, or both if you prefer. It’s your party. Kathy Villare will take graduation ceremony pictures.

We are completing our plans on how to best achieve our goal of recognizing this extraordinary achievement while adhering to local and CDC guidelines. Please let me know what ideas you have on how we can best recognize this extraordinary accomplishment in these anything but ordinary times. Next year we will return to the Collins Center and in a more traditional format to honor the graduates of 2020, 2021, and 2022.

While we are excited about the idea of returning to normal, it is important that we all continue to follow federal CDC, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and MSLAW COVID-19 protocols until vaccinations are completed and the virus is under control per guidance from the CDC.

We thank you all for your commitment to everyone’s safety during this unprecedented time. We always think of ourselves as a community of caring compassionate advocates who look for ways to best serve their communities. Words are meaningless without sacrifice, commitment , and action. Over the course of the last year your actions have showed that the words are more than aspirational. Thank you.
Be Safe.

Sincerely ,

Michael L. Coyne

March 16, 2021 Reopening Letter