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Arizona Law "New Safe Return" Plan: Executive Summary

Guidelines for the College of Law's new safe return to campus

James E. Rogers College of Law Plan for a “New Safe Return” Executive Summary

James E. Rogers College of Law
EVOLVING Plan for a “New Safe Return”

Executive Summary

The James E. Rogers College of Law (“Arizona Law”) has developed a comprehensive “New Safe Return” operations plan (the “Plan”) to reopen and continue its overall mission of delivering a high-quality legal education as safely as possible.

The New Safe Return Plan builds upon and is consistent with all recommendations of the University of Arizona Campus Re-entry Plan Working Group, including directives and guidance from the Test, Trace and Treat Team, the Implementation Planning Team, and Return to the University Workplace Team. The Plan consists of a pyramid of layered mitigation measures, designed to leverage Arizona Law’s relatively insular environment and to work as an integrated whole. These mitigation measures are listed below and illustrated in the accompanying figure:

  1. Recommended at-home mitigation (social distancing, personal hygiene, etc.);

  1. On-campus mitigation:
    1. Voluntary baseline blood testing for antibodies provided by UArizona;
    2. Campus access restricted to Arizona Law faculty, staff, and students with limited exceptions;
    3. Daily LawCat Screening questionnaire (covering symptoms and exposure history) and temperature checks;
    4. University-provided biofluid testing  - i.e. nasal and/or blood testing - through University health services for those in need of confirmatory diagnosis and medical care;
    5. Student schedule, teaching, classroom, and other space modifications to limit on-campus population density and facilitate social distancing;
    6. Adherence to masking and other personal protection measures in all Arizona Law operations; and,
    7. Physical plant monitoring and hygiene measures.; and.

Enhanced viral monitoring: serial testing for SARS CoV-2 and rhinoviruses of a voluntary cohort of the Arizona Law community -- a research component under Institutional Review Board (IRB) supervision, conducted by Arizona Law.

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This Plan is dynamic. In order to implement, evaluate, and update it as circumstances and university guidance evolve, Arizona Law will establish a COVID Task Force, whose members shall be appointed by the Dean’s Office.

To ensure maximum safety and confidence, all members of the Arizona Law community, both on and off campus, will participate in this comprehensive Plan. Members of the Arizona Law community who return to campus must adhere to the safety protocols set forth in the Plan as a prerequisite for physical presence on the Arizona Law campus. Individuals who opt out for any reason will participate in College of Law activities remotely.

The Plan proceeds as follows:

1.0 INTRODUCTION explains how the position of Arizona Law as a relatively insular unit within UArizona allows it to employ interventions not available to more populated or physically porous settings. To take advantage of this setting, Arizona Law will only be open to faculty, students, and staff of Arizona Law until further notice. The Plan integrates guidelines from UArizona, CDC and best practices from across the United States.

2.0 GUIDING PRINCIPLES first and foremost the Plan adopts the guiding principles established by UArizona. This Plan adopts additional principles: it offers flexible participation; minimizes contact and reduces crowding; minimizes transmission; preserves a culture of support; models science-forward and Arizona Law-sensitive measures; models rights-sensitive strategies; and subjects protocols to periodic review and modification. It gives particular consideration to high-risk special groups. The ultimate goal of this Plan is to allow Arizona Law to carry out its mission, modulated by the new realities of the COVID era.

Section 3.0 TASK FORCE recommends that Dean Miller establish an Arizona Law COVID Task Force with responsibility for implementing the Plan.

Section 4.0 MITIGATION PLAN lays out a mitigation plan for fully reopening Arizona Law, which is our primary goal and is not the same as returning to “life before COVID-19.” This plan consists of three principal layers: At-home mitigation, including social distancing, masking, and personal hygiene measures; on-campus mitigation, including free and voluntary baseline blood testing; restrictions on campus access; daily screening and temperature checks; schedule, classroom, and teaching modifications; masking and personal protection measures; physical plant monitoring and cleansing; and enhanced viral monitoring, including voluntary testing of a subgroup of the Arizona Law community and contact tracing provided by UArizona or other funders. In addition to preventing transmission of COVID-19 on the Arizona Law campus, the mitigation plan is designed to provide early warning if such transmission takes place.

Section 5.0 ARIZONA LAW COMMUNITY offers guidance for when it is safe to return to work. This Plan implements UArizona Implementation Team recommendations.

Section 5.1 Staff  focuses on the more than 100 staff members who keep Arizona Law running on the front lines and behind the scenes. Some staff may be able to work from home, others can only perform their tasks if they are physically present on campus, and a final cohort may combine virtual with physical presence.This Plan is based on input from the Arizona Law workforce through a mix of online, voluntary, anonymous submissions and one-on-one conversations.

Section 5.2 Faculty Arizona Law has 40 full-time faculty members, more than 90 Professors of Practice, and 6 emeritus faculty members. This section explains that faculty members should consult with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or Chief of Staff on flexible work arrangement or temporary work arrangement. 

Section 5.3 Students, all JD, LLM, SJD, and MLS students, will have flexibility to choose to learn in-person (on campus), remotely, or a combination. Students who do not wish to submit to Arizona Law’s safety protocols will learn and study from home or elsewhere on campus. In addition, students attending courses not held at the College of Law must do so remotely. Exceptions may be granted by the Dean’s Office or Arizona Law COVID Task Force.

Students are expected to comply with these guidelines for their own and others’ health and safety. Repeat violators will be subject to discipline. Students will be given a Responsibility Pledge before coming to campus.

5.4 Members of the UArizona Community, including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty from other departments, and staff from across campus, frequently attend meetings and events at Arizona Law. Until further notice, Arizona Law is open only to faculty, students, and staff of Arizona Law.

Section 5.5 Alumni, guests, and members of the public will be prohibited from entering the Arizona Law campus, including the law library, except in limited circumstances and with pre-approval from the Dean’s Office or the Arizona Law COVID Task Force. This prohibition does not apply to clients of our clinical programs. Anyone requesting entrance to the Arizona Law campus, including clinic clients, must be escorted into the building by a staff or faculty member to ensure compliance with temperature testing and questionnaire requirements.

6.0 INSTRUCTION Arizona Law will continue to deliver high quality instruction across a range of courses, clinics, and externships.The Plan’s goal is to maintain the highest standards for teaching and learning while mitigating the risk of COVID-19. Arizona Law promotes flexible teaching and learning modalities to accomplish this goal. This Plan seeks to respect the significant challenges students and faculty face in returning to campus.

The Plan implements UArizona guidelines for Instruction and COVID-19.

 6.2 JD Curriculum explains the Plan’s proposal to adopt a Red/Blue Team schedule to reduce density on campus, maximize safe opportunities for in-person instruction models, and further develop pedagogically effective online lessons. Each JD class, as well as the MLS, LLM, and SJD students, will be divided in half, into a Red Team and a Blue Team. While all students will have the option to attend classes remotely, the Red and Blue Teams will alternate weeks when they are permitted to attend classes in-person. In the alternate weeks, students will be required to attend class remotely and remain off campus. This staggered schedule reduces campus density, promotes physical distancing in the classroom, and has the added advantage of leveraging the latency period of the virus.

The Instruction section of the Plan has other recommendations, including encouraging faculty members to hold office hours using a mixture of in-person, Zoom, and phone; shortening Arizona Law’s fall break for 2020; and requiring faculty to administer exams remotely in the fall semester so that students do not have to return to campus for exams.

6.3. Classrooms Arizona Law shall maintain appropriate distancing within classrooms to minimize contact and transmission. The Plan requires instructors as well as students to wear a face covering. In order to reduce congestion during class transitions, instructors holding classes in the courtyard classrooms are encouraged to keep the doors open during class. To mitigate the congestion when exiting classes, professors should end class five minutes early. Professors are encouraged to dismiss the students in stages, by row or section. The lost classroom time will need to be made up with online instruction to comply with ABA guidelines.

Arizona Law will provide adequate A/V equipment in each classroom in order to allow  students to attend the class synchronously and asynchronously. Each class should be recorded and promptly posted to D2L for students attending asynchronously. Arizona Law will provide training for faculty, faculty support, and library staff to minimize glitches, and will refine the system for contacting IT staff when glitches arise.

6.5 Clinics Arizona Law hosts 13 in-house clinics. Each clinic incorporates both a classroom component and clinical casework. The Clinics will continue to maintain high-quality, client-centered representation, while also minimizing transmission and ensuring the health and safety of the Arizona Law community and clinic clients. To foster these goals, this Plan establishes the following rules for the daily operations of Arizona Law clinics: 1. No walk-ins will be permitted into the clinic offices in Rountree Hall. 2. In-person meetings with individuals from outside the Arizona Law community will be restricted. 3. Travel for case-related purposes will be minimized to the extent possible.

6.6 Externships/Off-site Clinics Students participating in clinical and experiential learning opportunities outside of Arizona Law should follow the policies and guidelines of the host organization and UArizona guidance as set forth in the Plan.

6.7 BA Curriculum To the extent that BA in Law students attend classes, participate in clinics, or have job responsibilities on the Arizona Law campus, they must conform with this Plan including the access provisions contained in section 4.2.

7.0 Non-Curricular Programs Student organizations and journals should develop an internal plan that outlines activities for the fall semester that conforms with the Plan.

8.0 PHYSICAL PLANT The changes and new protocols in this section aim to protect members of the Arizona Law community from infection and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our environment.

9.0 LAW LIBRARY  There are 17 dedicated staff and faculty members as part of the law library. With social distancing, the library will seat approximately 70 students at single-seat tables and carrels, and another 50-60 students in our soft-seating and modular furniture. Under the Plan, the library will offer traditional services, such as research support, interlibrary loan, and course reserves. The extent of each service will necessarily depend on staffing levels and guidance from the university.

Library use will be limited to Arizona Law students, faculty, and staff only. All members of the public, other UArizona students, and alumni will not be allowed to enter without prior approval by the Director of the Law Library, or in the Director’s absence, a member of the law library staff. Requests can be made via email, AskCirculation, or AskLawRef. In order to facilitate social distancing, only those permitted on the Arizona Law campus on any given day will be permitted to use the library. (Thus, when Red Team is on campus for classes, Blue Team may not use the library.) Exceptions may be granted in advance by the Director of the Law Library or, in the Director’s absence, a member of the law library staff.

10.0 DELIVERIES AND MAIL HANDLING establishes new protocols for deliveries and mail handling.

11.0 EVENTS AND GATHERINGS Arizona Law traditionally holds dozens of events each semester, ranging from small (10+) specialized lunchtime talks to large (200+) high-profile community events. These gatherings are integral to Arizona Law’s culture, offering social and educational growth while also strengthening its image within the Tucson community and beyond. For fall 2020 and perhaps into spring 2021, events involving non-Arizona Law persons will be held in a virtual setting, with the intent of keeping the law campus relatively isolated from the community at large.

Section 12. COMMUNICATION Arizona Law is committed to communicating frequently and substantively with the community throughout this process and will continue to give the community opportunities for input and feedback.

Section 13.0 SUPPORT AND RESOURCES outlines the various support services and resources available to the College of Law community during this unprecedented and difficult time. Arizona Law has added additional opportunities for students to engage counseling services during the fall semester.

Section 14.0 FACE COVERINGS Arizona Law adopts the face coverings directives and guidelines, issued by the University, including the requirements for wearing face coverings on campus, the procedures around compliance, and the considerations around accessibility.