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Law School Coronavirus FAQ


Fordham University has developed a comprehensive plan, Fordham Forward, to address public health concerns. For more information, please visit Fordham Forward Frequently Asked Questions.

Below, please find frequently asked questions pertaining specifically to Fordham Law School.


Health Questions for All Students

Updated 12/21/2020

Before spring semester starts

What do I need to do before spring semester starts?

If you are taking an in-person class during spring semester or plan to use the building for studying or other purposes, you must take the following steps:

  • Ensure you are on a list of students with access to the building. If you are registered for an in-person class, you are automatically on the list.  If you are not taking an in-person class, please complete this form at least one week before you plan to come into the building.

  • Be tested for Covid-19 and submit the results within the seven-day period before coming onto campus for the first time. If you are tested on campus, the results are reported automatically. If you are tested elsewhere, you must report results on the health portal on On-campus testing will begin on January 4, and students can access campus for the limited purpose of being tested. As always, campus testing is free. See the testing questions below for more information.

  • Complete VitalCheck daily screenings. If you are taking in-person classes or have completed the form above, you will be automatically enrolled in VitalCheck.  Once you receive the daily questionnaire, you must complete it each day whether you are coming to campus or not.  We expect the daily questionnaires to begin the week of January 11.

  • Comply with New York State restrictions on travellers. If you are coming from a state that is NOT contiguous to New York (the states that are contiguous are CT, MA, NJ, PA, and VT), you must complete the Fordham Quarantine Form. A link will be shared before the start of the semester. 

  • If you are coming into the building, you will be deemed to have taken the Ram Pledge.

What if I am not taking in-person classes and do not plan to use the building to study or for other purposes but I might need very occasional access to the building for a brief purpose? 

You must obtain prior approval from the Office of Student Affairs.  

Who should I contact with questions about Fordham housing?

Please contact the Lincoln Center Residential Life Office

Second Covid test at beginning of the semester

Do I need a second Covid test at the beginning of the semester?

Yes. Seven to 14 days after your first Covid test -- the test you must take within the seven-day period before first coming to campus -- you must take a second Covid test. As with the first test, you can be tested on campus.

Health protocols

What should I do if I test positive for Covid?

You must take the following steps:

  • Notify University Health Services by calling 212-636-7160 or emailing

  • Notify Darin Neely, the Law School’s Covid Coordinator

  • Respond affirmatively through VitalCheck

  • Quarantine as directed by the University Health Services and VitalCheck doctors

  • Receive clearance from University Health Services before returning to campus

What will the University do if a student tests positive?

The University will:

  • Conduct contact tracing for close contacts four days prior to the date of test

  • Notify close contacts

  • If the student attended one or more in-person classes after the date the test was administered or within four days prior to the test, then the University will advise whether the class must move online for some period and will advise whether others in the class should quarantine.

What will the Law School do if a student in an in-person class tests positive?

The Law School will:

  • Notify the in-person instructor(s) of the student’s need to miss in-person class

  • Notify students in the in-person class, but not the entire student body, that someone in the class tested positive

If someone in my class tests positive, does the whole class go online?

Not necessarily.  During the fall, in the small number of cases when a student tested positive, the advice from the University was sometimes that the class did not need to move online and the students and instructor did not need to quarantine. This judgment was based on the use of masks, social distancing, the number of people in the room, and the increased ventilation in our building.

What should I do if I am experiencing Covid symptoms or have been exposed to someone with Covid but I do not yet have test results?

Take these steps:

  • Respond affirmatively through VitalCheck and make a telehealth appointment through VitalCheck or other healthcare provider

  • If VitalCheck or another healthcare provider instructs you to stay home, tell the instructor of any in-person class(es) that you have been advised to stay home

  • Stay home until cleared to return by University Health Services

What should I do if I am worried about Covid but have no symptoms and have not been directly exposed to someone with Covid?

You should contact University Health Services, VitalCheck or another healthcare provider for advice.

Attendance rules

If I test positive, how are my absences from in-person classes treated?

Until you are cleared by University Health Services to return to campus, the instructor must treat absences from in-person classes as excused, although the instructor may require you to watch a recording of the missed classes, if the class is being recorded.

If I do not have a positive test but have been advised by VitalCheck or another healthcare professional to stay home, how are my absences from in-person classes treated?

Until you are cleared by University Health Services to return to campus, the instructor must treat absences from in-person classes as excused, although the instructor may require you to watch a recording of the missed classes, if the class is being recorded.

If I have not been advised to stay home by VitalCheck or a healthcare professional, how would an absence from an in-person class be treated?

Your absence will not be considered excused on the basis of Covid. 

In summary, what are the Covid-related rules about attendance?

Your absence from an in-person class will be excused on the basis of Covid only if:

  • You have tested positive for Covid and have not been cleared to return to campus by University Health Services;

  • The screening tool, VitalCheck, has not cleared you to come to campus; or 

  • You are required to quarantine pursuant to New York State rules for persons who have travelled out of the state.  But please note that you are expected to refrain from any unnecessary travel during the semester.

In the absence of one of these objective grounds for excuse, in-person attendance is expected.  

As in a regular semester, there are other bases for missing classes, such as illness unrelated to Covid or a family emergency.  Please consult your instructors’ attendance policies.

Consequences for violations

What happens if a student violates the health protocols?

The health of our community depends on strict adherence to our health protocols.  Any violation will be considered a violation of the Ram Pledge and will be referred to the Office of Student Affairs.  All students coming into the building will be deemed to have taken the Ram Pledge

Additionally, and at a minimum, a student who violates a health protocol will be barred from using a study space in the building for two weeks. During this period, the student will still be allowed to enter the building to attend in-person classes.


Who should I contact if I have a question about the health protocols?

The Office of Student Affairs.  

Covid testing

How often will I be tested during the semester?

During the fall semester, everyone coming to campus was required to be tested once a month. We anticipate a similar requirement for spring semester and will share information as it becomes available.

How do I sign up for on-campus testing?

Use this link to sign up for testing: 

Covid-19 Testing Resources

Testing for spring semester will be available beginning the week of January 4.

How much does on-campus testing cost?

On-campus testing is free.

How do I report my test results?

If you are tested on campus, the results are reported automatically. If you are tested elsewhere, you must report results on the health portal on

Other health questions

What steps have the University and Law School taken to reduce the risk of the transmission of Covid?

As explained in detail in the Law School’s Safety Guidelines, every person in the building must wear a mask at all times; we have sharply limited the density of the building, both in classrooms and in study spaces; in-person classes are capped at 45 or fewer students; chairs in classrooms and the library are set with at least six feet of distance from each other; the HVAC system draws in far more fresh air than normal, it will run 24 hours a day, and we have installed high grade filters that exceed the CDC-recommended standard; and there is signage throughout the building guiding people around the spaces in a way that maintains physical distancing. 

What are the New York State health protocols for anyone entering New York from out of state?

For the latest information, please see the New York State website

Where can I eat and drink?

You can always eat and drink outside the Law School building, including on the Murphy Veranda (weather permitting) and plaza. You may also eat and drink in the Smeltzer Dining Hall as long as you maintain social distancing and put your mask on as soon as you finish eating and drinking.

Can I drink water in a classroom or study space?

No. Drinking requires the removal of a face covering, and this is permitted only in the areas designated for eating and drinking. 

Are there daily temperature checks at the Law School or do we do that at home with the daily screening tool, VitalCheck app?

There will not be temperature checks at the entrances to Fordham buildings. VitalCheck does not require a temperature check, but individuals might want to check their own temperature to respond to the daily questions.

What are the hours for the custodial and health services?

Custodial staff are working in the building 24 hours a day to clean and disinfect. Public Safety staff are in the building 24 hours a day and are trained to respond to emergencies.  They can reach one of Fordham's on-call nurse practitioners or request emergency ambulance assistance.


Academic Questions for All Students

What are the plans for the spring semester?

  • We are keeping the same start dates as are currently on the calendar
    • 1Ls have a one-day orientation on January 19, everyone else starts regular classes that day; 1Ls start classes on January 20
  • Registration will take place at the beginning of January
  • There will be no spring break, but we are extending the reading period at the end of the semester and are planning three days off during the semester:
    • Presidents’ Day on February 15
    • March 10, and
    • Good Friday on April 2
  • For upper-level J.D. students, on-campus interviewing will continue as planned on January 26–29, although this will be all virtual. Upper-level classes will be suspended for those days
  • The Law School diploma ceremony will take place on May 24
  • Details on exam schedules will be forthcoming

Do students taking only online classes have access to the building to study and use printing services?

Students who take only online classes still have access to the building, the library, classrooms designated as study spaces, and printers in the building. Please note, however, that access to the building is subject to the entry protocols to which every person entering the building must adhere. Study space capacity is limited to comply with social distancing protocols.

Although printers are available in the building, students should have access to a basic home printer for online exams, unless a student’s exam-taking style does not require a printer.

How does the study space reservation system work? 

To book an individual study space, please use the library's study space reservation system.  All law students--regardless of whether you are taking classes online or in person--can reserve study space in the library and designated classrooms. There is no daily limit on the use of individual study spaces.

To provide small group study space, we have opened up rooms on the 3rd and 4th floors. In using the small group study rooms, it is critically important to observe the room occupancy limits and to remain masked. To reserve a room for this purpose, please use the study space reservation system. There is a three hour daily limit on the use of group study rooms.

Please remember that all students entering a Fordham building for any purpose must follow all health protocols, including testing, daily screening, and mask wearing and social distancing at all times.

Can I take an online class or attend an online event in the building?

Yes. To book a seat, please use the library's study space reservation system.

Please remember that all students entering a Fordham building for any purpose must follow all health protocols, including testing, daily screening, and mask wearing and social distancing at all times.

Do I need a reservation to access the printers in the library?


Will spring exams be in-person or remote?

All spring exams will be administered remotely.

What is the grading system?

Our regular grading system is in place for all courses across the academic program.

What technology do I need for taking online classes?

Please see the list here. Students should have access to a basic black and white printer at home, unless a student’s exam-taking style does not require a printer.

How do I contact faculty members?

All faculty members hold a virtual office hour or the equivalent. Please see syllabi for more information and Zoom links. If you want to speak with a faculty member from whom you are not taking a course this semester, email the professor to find out their office hour.

What if I have to miss classes?

Class attendance is mandatory, but if you have to miss a class or two, then you should contact your professors. If you need to miss a significant number of classes, you should contact the Office of Student Affairs. That office can address absences on a case-by-case basis and provide individualized accommodations. If your absence occurs before a midterm or a final exam, please do not contact your professor as exams are anonymously graded and doing so would compromise anonymity.

What if I have a disability that affects my ability to take online classes and/or exams?

If you are a student with a disability or with a temporary impairment requiring in-class and/or exam accommodations, please contact Abel Montez, Director of Student Affairs, at Early disclosure is essential in order to allow sufficient time for the Law School to review, approve, and implement accommodations. For more information, please visit  

What happens if health conditions require in-person classes to move online?

Given the uncertainty around the COVID-19 outbreak, we may need to move in-person classes online if required by health officials or the University. This may happen with little notice, as it did in March 2020. Please be prepared for the possibility of this happening again. 

Will classes be recorded?

All 1L doctrinal classes except Legal Writing and Research will be recorded, regardless of whether the class is taught in person or online; further, the recordings will be posted to the course management platform (TWEN or Blackboard) and will be available for at least two weeks. There are two limited exceptions: (1) the instructor decides, at their discretion, not to record specific class sessions or portions of a class session where, in the instructor’s judgment, the pedagogical and pandemic-related benefits of recording are outweighed by the interests of enabling conversations on topics involving difficult or sensitive issues, and (2) an outside speaker requests that the class period not be recorded.

Other courses will be recorded at the instructor’s discretion. To find the instructor’s policy, see “Course policies” under each course on LawNET.

Please remember that the recordings are the property of instructors, and students may not download or capture the recording in any manner, share the recording, or use it for non-class purposes.  

Eligibility Questions for International Students

Please note: These answers are based on information current as of November 5, 2020, and incorporate our reading of the most recent ICE guidance. We will continue to update this information as additional guidance is issued.

I am a returning F-1 student.  How can I remain eligible to be in the U.S.?

You can remain in the U.S. under an F-1 visa if you are registered as a fulltime student, regardless of whether your classes are in-person, online, or a combination of in-person and online.

I am a returning F-1 student who prefers to stay in my country for the spring semester. Can I do so?

Yes, you can register for fully online classes if that is your preference. However, if you do so you will not retain your F-1 status for the spring 2021 semester, but your SEVIS record will remain active. 

I am a returning F-1 student who prefers to stay in my country for the spring semester.  If I do so, what impact will this have on my eligibility for OPT?

You will be eligible to apply for OPT, but regulations require you to submit your OPT paperwork while you are in the U.S.  Since you are abroad, this presents a challenge. CIS has not given guidance on how to address this issue. However, if you return to the U.S. before your completion date, you would be able to file your OPT application.

I am an incoming student who needs a visa to study in the U.S. Can I remain in my home country?

Yes. Fordham’s Office for International Services (OIS) will be able to issue you an I-20 to apply for a visa, and your visa will remain valid even if you choose to remain in your home country for the Spring 2021 semester. You must contact OIS if/when you choose to enter the U.S. to complete your degree. However, as noted above, you must have two consecutive semesters as an F-1 student in order to be eligible for OPT.  Since you cannot maintain F-1 status while outside of the U.S., you will not be eligible for OPT in this scenario.

I am an incoming F-1 student. Can I come to the U.S. on a student visa if all of my classes will be online?

No. You should register for at least one in-person course. There will be one section of Introduction to the U.S. Legal System and Process that will be in-person, and we can guarantee you a space in that course.

I am an incoming student and understand that orientation will be online. Should I plan to come to New York before or after orientation?

Orientation will end on January 15 and other classes will begin on January 19, so there is not much time to arrive and settle in after orientation. Depending on the public health situation it is also likely that students coming from outside New York State will have to quarantine for two weeks before entering campus.  For these reasons, we recommend that you arrive in New York in advance of orientation, which begins on January 4.