Howard Law Dean Gives Update on COVID-19

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March 13, 2020

Dear Howard Law Community,

Please carefully review the University communication below concerning Howard University’s ongoing response to COVID-19.

I know this is a very difficult time for all of us and I appreciate the work of students, faculty and staff to ensure each other’s safety and the continuation of our academic program and other Law School services. Please keep in mind that all important and official communications about COVID-19 will come directly from Howard University communications and then will be followed by specific directions from the Law School administration, if relevant. In times of uncertainty, it is natural for anxiety to increase and for rumors to spread quickly. The Law School and the University will continue to be transparent and give you all critical information on an ongoing basis. You can be assured that we will keep you updated on all important decisions as soon as we can. The situation is fluid and rapidly evolving, so please bear with us as we work carefully to respond thoughtfully to all aspects of this emergency.

Students and faculty have already received information from Associate Dean Olivares about continuation of the Law School’s academic program through online learning. Dean Olivares will send an updated communication before the end of today. Associate Dean McGahee will send an email shortly about how to access other Law School services. We will also place these communications on the Law School’s website.

All University updates about coronavirus and a Q&A are here:

I will be carefully reviewing and responding to email throughout spring break. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me directly. Please stay safe and have a restful and productive spring break.


Best wishes,

Danielle Holley-Walker
Dean and Professor of Law 
Howard University School of Law 


Howard University Communications Ongoing Response to COVID-19

March 13, 2020

Dear Howard University Community,

There have been a number of significant events that have transpired in regard to the COVID-19 outbreak in the past 48 hours.  The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.  The number of cases globally exceed 140,000, with over 5,000 deaths. Nationally, there have been over 1,700 cases, with confirmed COVID-19 cases identified in 47 states, and the District of Columbia. Additionally, Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency in Washington, D.C., and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has taken the additional step of activating the National Guard. Given these events, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University is making urgent decisions with the expectation that conditions in the U.S. will significantly decline before the crisis is resolved. 

We must approach this pandemic with extreme urgency, and an understanding that “life as usual” will not be our reality. We recognize and appreciate the unique circumstances of our student population who may have financial barriers to moving home quickly, our staff and faculty needs around daycare, and technological support for remote and online instruction and learning.  We understand the potential impact that these decisions will have on our students, faculty and staff, especially to students who are unable to easily return home. In addition, please note that we are in communication with the Department of Education (DOE) and following their guidance for any interruptions (or modifications) of study.  

For the safety of our community, and to reduce the potential risk of the transmission or spread of COVID-19, we must significantly de-densify, meaning, decrease the number of people on campus over the next several weeks. 

In a previous communication, we announced the transition to online and remote instruction following spring break from March 23, 2020 at least through April 6, 2020. Given the local, national and international developments that have occurred since that communication, we must anticipate that online and remote instruction will need to continue for the duration of the academic semester, and we should plan accordingly. 

The Office of Residence Life & University Housing strongly encourages students to travel to their permanent addresses during this period, with exceptions regarding international students, and other students who are truly unable to return home. Regarding faculty and staff, we must similarly de-densify, as we remain open. We recognize that a limited number of students may be unable to go home, for a number of reasons, ranging from high incidence rates of COVID-19 in certain parts of the country to international student status. We will continue to accommodate students in these circumstances.

During the Spring Break period, only essential faculty and staff should plan to be on campus, as we want to reduce person to person interactions, and contagious conditions. We are actively discussing the University’s best course of action in the weeks immediately following Spring Break to guarantee the continuity of University operations, do everything we can to protect the health and safety of our faculty and staff, and do our part to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We expect to be providing further guidance to faculty and staff regarding the post-Spring Break period in the next several days. We should plan to be operating in a remote framework following Spring Break, with as few employees on campus as feasible.  Please check your inbox regularly for subsequent communications on this critical issue.

Please note the following additionally;

We are sourcing vendors to identify additional laptops for faculty who do not have computers, or whose machines are not sufficiently current for online instruction, and for staff who need to have the capability of working remotely. We will communicate with the Deans to identify these faculty and staff most in need of equipment as supply chains are limiting the availability of equipment.

  • All faculty must complete a Needs Assessment Survey and an Academic Continuity Plan and submit via Qualtrics by Tuesday, March 17, 2020. This will assist in preparation for additional training and support.
  • Laptops will be prioritized to faculty with appropriate justification in the Needs Assessment Survey and Academic Continuity Plans.
  • All faculty who are not already Distance Learning or Blackboard Certified must complete the mandatory Blackboard Basics training. This one-hour training will be provided by CETLA via Zoom next week. A recording of the training will be posted on the CETLA and the Office of the Provost websites. Before you begin teaching, all faculty must participate in the Zoom training or watch the video.
  • The University is purchasing a number of additional Zoom® licenses, and they will be available for dissemination by early next week.
  • Faculty conducting essential research that requires access to campus buildings must communicate with Dr. Bruce Jones, Vice President for Research.
  • We must transition all courses to remote/online instruction, with the understanding that there may be accreditation and licensure requirements that dictate modifications regarding laboratory, clinical, and performance-based courses.
  • Health professional programs will continue to follow all accreditation and licensure expectations and will receive further guidance from their Deans. Each Health Science Dean will be providing specific recommendations to the Provost regarding continued implementation of instruction.


We urge all employees to continue to monitor new and current events, and also be supportive of colleagues and family members who may be at significant risk of transmission. The most recent and viable information regarding COVID-19 is available at the CDC website ( We are also concerned of significant impacts to the supply of goods and services, should the outbreak progress significantly. Please plan to prepare a minimum 3-5 day supply of food, water, medications and other items in the case of supply chain disruption.

As noted previously, we realize that a limited number of our students will have challenges returning home, and we will continue to provide support for those students. These are unpredictable circumstances and conditions of accessibility to events and resources are changing daily. While we continue to hope and pray for the best outcome, we must certainly prepare for very challenging conditions. I am confident that as a strong Howard University Community, we will successfully navigate this latest challenge together. Thank you, and God bless.