How to Stay Safe This Semester

 

Law school isn’t known for being one of the more flexible or accommodating environments. There are stories of students who went in to labor during finals who were forced to finish the exam, students with illnesses returning to lecture because they were out of excused absences, and even students who were denied leave to attend a family member’s funeral! Here’s hoping that COVID forces that militant culture to change. Below are some techniques to implement at the individual level that will help keep you and your fellow classmates safe as you reacclimate to in-person classes. Remember: if you or a close family member are considered “at risk” or otherwise immunocompromised, take any extra precautions necessary to ensure that you keep you and your family safe.  

During Study Group

Study groups are an integral part of law school even if you prefer to study alone. For one thing, they can foster close relationships among future colleagues. For another, they are an excellent place to vent about a particular professor, subject area, or topic. (Here’s looking at you: Rules Against Perpetuities.) If you are a 1L and new to this whole “law school studying” thing, consider reaching out to a few classmates and schedule a time each week where you meet and go over problem areas for each class. It would be particularly helpful if you picked a group of people that are all in the same “section” or “cohort” as you: that way you can discuss many subject areas and you don’t come into close contact with a larger spread of people. If you already have a designated study group, confer and decide whether you will be meeting in person or online this semester. Online study group meetings offer the most scheduling flexibility, but it can be difficult to keep everyone on-task. If you meet in person, make it a rule that everyone wears a face mask, especially if you are all seated at the same table and in close proximity to one another. Either way, in the midst of all this chaos and seclusion, a little camaraderie will certainly be welcome.

In Class

This fall, each law school (or larger school system) are responsible for developing its own safety rules to protect student and faculty health. Some examples of what schools have done include: lower class sizes, only allow ½ of a class to attend lectures in-person on any given day, require students to have an empty chair in between them and the next person, expanded excused absences, and the option to view all lectures online. On the individual level, students can protect themselves by carrying (and using) hand sanitizer, wearing their facemask whenever necessary (not just practicable), staying home at the slightest sniffle, taking a multivitamin or consuming healthy food, and try and get a sufficient amount of sleep each night. While there is no guarantee that a chewable vitamin will stave off a virus, keeping your body healthy is critical to operating at your peak ability.   

At Social Events

If your school plans on hosting social events and you believe they are taking adequate precautions, go have some fun! Quarantine has affected us all differently, but the one thing we all seem to miss is human interaction. As long as you act responsibly and follow the set social distancing guidelines, law school social events can be an excellent opportunity to unwind and even connect with your favorite professors. 

As you return to “back to school as usual” during a time where nothing is seems to be “usual,” don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself or your peers. Staying safe isn’t just about protecting your individual health, it’s about doing your part to ensure the health of others as you face the challenge of law school together. 

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