Statement on COVID-19: Addressing Inequity Within Our Law School
JLI Editorial Board
Over the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted deeply-rooted inequities within our law school community. Coupled with the normal pressures of law school, the pandemic has strained (and continues to strain) students’ mental, physical, and financial wellbeing. And the challenges brought by the pandemic are exponentially increased for students facing both long-standing and COVID-19–specific inequities––students of color, students with disabilities and preexisting health conditions, students who are parents, and others.
With nearly 1 in 4 University of Minnesota students testing positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of January, and an exponential increase in the daily average of new cases in Minnesota in the wake of Omicron, the Law School must better protect its students, especially given that in-person learning is required.
JLI requests that the University of Minnesota Law School provides equitable access to healthcare and education for its students. Such access includes:
- Continually providing N95 masks to students.
- Requiring that professors record their lectures, or provide live zoom links for students to follow along with their lectures, for students who contract or are exposed to COVID-19, so that students do not have to choose between community health and education.
- Providing safe classroom environments, with the ability to socially distance, or allowing for synchronous instructions for courses that do not allow all students to meet safely in-person.
- Providing a more substantive absence policy that: requires students to test negative before returning to campus if returning before a ten-day isolation period, outlines instructions for students who test positive, and affords accommodations to those who test positive.
- Requiring students and faculty to be fully vaccinated (unless qualifying for a state-recognized exception), requiring proof of vaccination as part of enrollment, and enforcing the mask mandate for students and professors.
- Providing better access to COVID-19 testing (whether at-home or in-clinic tests).
Further, JLI stands in solidarity with student groups who have already petitioned the University for improved COVID-19 accommodations. Without the safeguards of remote learning, and with the lack of clear guidelines for students with a COVID-19 exposure or positive test, the University of Minnesota Law School risks being the site of preventable COVID-19 spread. In order to preserve Minnesota Law’s high quality of education for all students, JLI hopes to see changed policies and more clear procedures which prioritize student health in the coming weeks.
 Ryan Faircloth, Minnesota Colleges Report Spikes in COVID-19 as Students Start Spring Semester, Star. Trib. (Jan. 17, 2022), https://www.startribune.com/minnesota-colleges-report-spikes-in-covid-19-as-studenstart-spring-semester/600136753/.
 Tracking Coronavirus in Minnesota: Latest Map and Case Count, N.Y. Times, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/minnesota-covid-cases.html (last updated Jan. 23, 2022).