Photograph: Students in a classroom.

June 3, 2021 Update From Dean Lowry

Dear Students:

As you know, the law school currently has a variance from the ABA Standards on distance education for the Fall 2021 semester. The variance means that distance education credits accumulated by students due to the pandemic will not count against the 30-credit maximum allowed for J.D. students.

As you also know, we were cautioned by the ABA that the variance could be withdrawn or limited before the start of the fall semester. It now appears that the variance will not be withdrawn but it will be limited.

Dean Pratt has been informed that the ABA variance is very likely to remain in place. We can't be certain of it until the Council meets in August shortly before fall classes start, but the information Dean Pratt received gives us confidence that the ABA will not withdraw the variance on which many students at many law schools are relying.

Dean Pratt was also informed, however, of limitations on the use of the variance. The variance does not allow students to participate remotely as a matter of convenience. The variance allows students who are concerned about contracting Covid-19 to participate in classes remotely. The variance also allows students who have a symptom of Covid-19 to participate in classes remotely for the duration of their symptoms or until their medical provider instructs that it is safe to return to the classroom. Because Washburn does not require students or employees to show proof of vaccination before coming on campus, students participating in classes in-person may be exposed to unvaccinated persons.

The limitation on the distance education variance means that some of the fall curriculum unfortunately will not be available to certain groups of students who will be attending remotely because of the Third Year Anywhere Program or because they have been accepted as transfer students and would prefer to stay in place as a matter of convenience. We know that this is a serious disappointment to some of those students. Each of these groups will be receiving an email with more specific information about their online course enrollment options.

Outside of these two groups, we expect that most of our students will be attending classes in person, and we encourage them to do so. With the exception of Third Year Anywhere and Transfer Students, students who have health and safety concerns may attend all classes remotely, with the exception of certain clinic courses. All classes, unless otherwise noted on the schedule, will be offered in person and broadcast to remote participants via Zoom. We expect all classes will be held in the law school building. Students attending in person will not be required to wear masks or social distance, per new CDC and university guidelines. Of course, you may wear a mask if you wish.

We continue to ask any students who have symptoms of illness or who otherwise might be vulnerable to transmission to attend remotely during the period in which they might put others at risk.

Having another semester of hybrid instruction due to continued caution regarding the pandemic necessitates another semester of remote exams, which will need to be administered in accordance with ABA guidelines regarding the variance. The deans office will be working with the ABA, WSBA, the faculty, and the university regarding details on how these exams will be administered, and detailed information on this will be provided at a later date. If you have any information you want us to know regarding your exam experiences, please let WSBA know, either anonymously or not, at Please be sure to select "Washburn Student Bar Association" on the dropdown menu, and please be as specific in your comments as possible.

I'm sure that this update will bring many other questions or concerns to mind. Please let me know those, and they will be addressed in a follow-up communication to all students.

Best regards,

Jalen Lowry
Associate Dean for Student Affairs