Fall 2020 FAQs

Academics and Classes

The University, in consultation with public-health authorities, has decided to operate this fall on a “hybrid” basis. What does that mean for MSU Law?

Based on MSU directives and new socially distant classroom capacities, we have moved most courses either online or partially online (hybrid).  However, even in-person class will have some option for remote participation if needed.

The following are the new designations for classes.  The percentage of each type of instruction will differ among classes.  Please contact the individual professor for details.

In-person instruction - students may participate remotely if needed.
Online/Remote instruction (Asynchronous) - requires online interaction with flexible time.
Online/Remote instruction (Synchronous) - requires online interaction at scheduled days/times.
Online/Remote/In-person Hybrid Instruction - occurs online/remote with in-person sessions of students in a rotation at scheduled days/times.

Additionally, ALL classes will shift from the use of TWEN to the use of the MSU learning management software – Desire2Learn (D2L).  This change brings MSU Law into alignment with the larger university and allows for a more consistent class experience for all students.  See below for more information on D2L.

Is it possible all classes will end up being online only?

It is possible that all classes will be moved online; this will depend on how the health situation unfolds in East Lansing and in the state.  The University will continue to monitor conditions and provide us all with updates as the fall semester progresses.

Do I have to attend classes in person?

No, you will be able to attend almost all classes scheduled to meet in person remotely if needed. A few classes (clinics and other experiential courses) may require in-person attendance, so please check the course descriptions carefully.

If I choose to attend remotely, can I watch the recordings of class online on my own schedule?

The method of remote instruction will vary by professor.  Some professors may record lectures for later viewing.  Others may require you to “attend” class via zoom.  Please check with your professor for the remote option for each of your classes.

When am I required to inform MSU Law of my decision about whether to attend in person or remotely?

You only need to inform the professor of the class that you are choosing to attend remotely.  It is possible that some people will begin the class in person but shift to remote attendance due to health concerns.  Communicate with your professor.

You also do not need to make the same choice for every class.  It may be that you want to limit exposure by attending classes in person two days a week while attending other classes remotely or by only attending experiential classes in person.  Make the plan that best meets your needs to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy. 

Will the spring 2020 credit/no credit and grade policies still be in effect for fall 2020?

No, the modified grading policy was for spring 2020 only. MSU Law will return to its usual policies as of the fall 2020 semester.

The University said that all classes will move online after Thanksgiving. Does that apply to the MSU Law?

Yes, all classes will meet online from November 30, until the last day of classes on December 3, 2020.

How will final exams be administered?

MSU Law final exams will be conducted remotely via the Examplify exam software. Exams listed as in person on the schedule will be administered with their normal duration on the listed day and time.

Health and Safety

What if I get sick or my regular childcare is not available?

If you become ill, or need to care for someone who is ill, or do not have childcare because of COVID-19, please contact Assistant Dean for Student and Academic Affairs, Abijah Taylor.

What is MSU Law doing to reduce classroom density?

The University has assessed the occupancy limits of all classrooms, and we have labelled the seating in the classrooms as appropriate to maintain social distancing within those limits. As a result, classes have been reallocated to rooms that can facilitate the appropriate class sizes. For classes that are too large to fit in any of our classrooms, professors have either moved the class entirely online or developed a hybrid class in which smaller cohorts of students meet in person on designated days while the remaining the instruction is conducted online.

Will masks be required?

Yes, The Michigan State University Community Compact requires the wearing of appropriate face covering while on MSU property, both indoors and outdoors. The Community Compact applies to MSU students, faculty, staff, alumni, contractors, vendors, and visitors.  If you cannot wear a mask, you are welcome to take your courses through the remote option instead.

COVI-19 Health and Testing Resources

Michigan State University Updates
Ingham County Health Department Updates
Michigan Dept. of Health Updates (includes links for test sites)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Updates

Building Use

Will the building be open for students to study?

Due to social distancing requirements, study space will be more limited this fall. Space will be available in the building for students who cannot return home for their online classes or who want to study between in-person classes. If you plan to attend classes in person, we generally will encourage you to come to the building for that purpose and then depart when you’re done for the day. We hope to keep the population density in the building as low as possible.

What about faculty office hours or meetings with MSU Law Departments?

While we won’t be able to have most in person office meetings due to social distancing requirements, our faculty and staff are still committed to being resources for you. Office hours, advising, and just taking time to chat will take place by phone or online via Zoom/Teams.

Will Sparty’s be open?

The Sparty’s at MSU Law will not be open for the fall 2020 semester. The Panera Bread and Starbucks in the Business College across the street are currently planning to be open. The residential dining halls are also planning to be open.

What about events?

There will be very few gatherings in the building outside of classes, but we expect to offer our usual robust array of events online.


Will the library provide electronic access to course textbooks?

No.  The law library has made a limited number of print textbooks available to students as a courtesy. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide complimentary electronic access to textbooks.  We have, however, purchased electronic access to a wide array of study aids.  Study aids have been one of the most borrowed items and now students will be able to access these materials online. http://www.law.msu.edu/library/index.html

Will access to the Law Library be Restricted to Law Students?

Yes, access to the law library will be restricted to law students for the first month of the semester. We will revisit this policy at the end of September and may adjust the policy depending on library usage and traffic.

What safety precautions has the library put in place?

We are reconfiguring furniture to increase space between tables and chairs; moving equipment, such as copiers, to reduce concentrations of people accessing the copier/printer room; limiting the number of people who can use the group study rooms; installing sneeze guards at the circulation and reference desks; and cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and equipment on a regular schedule.

What are my options for saving money when purchasing textbooks?

If you plan to buy your textbook new, we recommend that you consider purchasing a digital e-book version of your textbook. The cost difference between a print textbook and a digital textbook is fairly significant.  Also, you can highlight and take notes in the digital version. You can purchase the digital versions on the textbook publisher’s website (most course textbooks are published by Wolters Kluwer or West Academic – see the first assignments for your courses for details about the required textbook for your class). Other cost-effective options for accessing textbooks are buying the books used or renting. Rental books are available through the Spartan Bookstore and the Student Bookstore (SBS) as well as private venders such as Amazon.com. Also, check the MSU Law Textbook Buy/Sell Facebook group for used books:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/928016650625825.


Are there resources for getting familiar with D2L now that all classes are moving away from TWEN?

Yes, the student D2L training course, Students - Getting Started with D2L, contains video tutorials covering the most commonly used aspects of the D2L Learning Environment as well as success tips and practice activities to complete. Each module is broken into topics designed to help students become proficient with the basics of taking an online course in D2L.

Is there an APP for managing my D2L courses?

Yes, Brightspace Pulse is a mobile app that can help students see what is coming up in their courses and manage their time and efforts accordingly. The Pulse app is supported on Android and iOS. The Brightspace Pulse app can be a valuable time management tool.

Now that so many courses are being held online via D2L and Zoom, is there any guidance on the minimum specifications to look for when buying a new laptop?

Yes, laptops are essential for both in-person and online course work. Also, whether in-person or remote, exams will be administered via the Examplify testing software. The Technology Office has put together recommendations for the technology that will be needed to participate fully in class and exams.