Coronavirus FAQ

Vermont Law School is closely monitoring the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The following FAQs contain the School's current coronavirus policies and resources for students, faculty, staff, and the greater VLS community. We will continue to update this information as needed. More information can be found on the VLS Coronavirus Preparedness and Information page.

Your patience and cooperation are deeply appreciated as we respond to this extraordinary and dynamic situation. If you have any questions, concerns, or require clarification on any information below, please email the VLS Covid19 Task Force at covid19@vermontlaw.edu.

Campus Operations

VLS has temporarily closed its physical campus to students effective Monday, March 16 and through the fall semester.

Classes are suspended Monday and Tuesday, March 16 and 17. A few classes will go on remotely at the scheduled time on the 16th and 17th. Students in those classes will be contacted directly by their Professor with instructions.

All classes and meetings have been moved online. Professors will provide instructions to students on how to join the class. Any community member who has internet connectivity issues should email the IT department at helpdesk@vermontlaw.edu to find a solution. We have been in touch with our accrediting agencies and are confident that these changes will not run afoul of any standards and guidance.

Any online courses that are already being delivered will continue as normal.

Until further notice, the Cafe, Library, and Fitness Center will also be closed to students and the public. We hope to resume limited services when it is safe to reopen the campus.

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, the number of cases has increased domestically. Vermont is presently a low risk state but the pandemic is continuing to break out in parts of the country where many of our students reside. We do not know when and where it will be safe to travel.

After consultation with other schools and state experts, we need to take steps as a community to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. Our best opportunity to do so is to reduce the density of our population on our campus, thereby decreasing the risk of community spread.

We recognize that these decisions raise questions and VLS is ready to address any questions or concerns. Please send questions to covid19@vermontlaw.edu.

Campus Events

All student and other events on campus are cancelled until further notice. Some events may be moved to a virtual format.

With deep sadness, we regret to announce that we have decided to postpone the Commencement ceremony, which had been rescheduled for Saturday, August 8. We were optimistic that we would return to normalcy and gather together by early August. Unfortunately, the Governor's Order requires all those who have been out of state to self-quarantine for 14 days and that would not be workable for the many out-of-town guests we expect to attend Commencement.

However, we will celebrate Commencement on May 15, 2021 along with the Class of 2021.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) free tax preparation service at VLS is closed for the remainder of the season.

Community members who intended to use the service should call Capstone Community Action at 802-477-5148. A representative will return your call to set up an appointment to meet in their Randolph, VT office. If that location doesn't work, they can do taxes by mail.

Unfortunately, with continued uncertainty surrounding the coming months, including concerns regarding travel and large group gatherings, VLS has decided to cancel Alumni Weekend 2020.

We are still committed to honoring the classes that were scheduled to celebrate milestone reunions this year, and we plan to recognize those groups in a meaningful way at Alumni Weekend 2021.

If you have any questions, please contact the Alumni Office at alumni@vermontlaw.edu.

Faculty and Staff

IT announced the creation of a Faculty Teams Support service. Please use this resource for all your Teams related questions. This is your venue to get answers for all your Teams questions such as scheduling a class, recording and sharing your class, and any other Teams related inquiry.

This virtual service is conducted on Teams daily from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and hosted by Kate Willard. There is no need for an appointment, but please note that there might be others on the meeting when you join.

Join Faculty Teams Support Meeting

Additionally, if you would like to explore self-learning, here are some useful links:

 

Effective immediately, all VLS sponsored non-essential travel is prohibited. This includes conferences. Additionally, VLS Faculty and Staff who have traveled by air or cruise, domestically or internationally and have reason to believe you have been exposed to COVID-19; or if you are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, are asked to remain off campus during business hours until the VLS Campus reopens.

If anyone in our community requires assistance, whether technical, illness, or are not able to access groceries or other necessities, contact Vice Dean McCormack, Associate Dean Jefferson, or email the covid19@vermontlaw.edu address.

If you have any questions regarding employee benefits, please contact Betsy Erwin, Director of Human Resources or Lori Campbell, Benefits and Payroll Coordinator.

You can make a gift in support of the COVID-19 Hardship Fund online, by mailing a check, or via phone. Please see below for further information on each option.

  • Gifts can be made online by clicking here and selecting the COVID-19 Hardship Fund designation. Visa, Mastercard and American Express are all accepted via our secure giving site.
  • Checks made payable to Vermont Law School can be mailed to the below address. Please specify the COVID-19 Hardship Fund on the memo line of your check.
    Vermont Law School
    Offices for Alumni Relations and Development
    PO Box 26
    South Royalton, VT 05068
  • To make a credit card payment by phone, call 802-831-1312. Since our staff is currently working remotely, please leave a message with your name and phone number, and your call will be returned as soon as possible. The Offices for Alumni Relations and Development continue to monitor messages during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.).

To learn more about the hardship fund, please click here.

Faculty and staff who are in need of funds should submit an online application and supporting documentation by clicking here. A committee—made up of staff members from both the Office of Human Resources and Senior Deans—reviews the submitted applications and determines the appropriate funding amount.

For more information on the COVID-19 Hardship Fund and the application process, please click here.

Students

Classes will be suspended on Monday and Tuesday, March 16 and 17. A few classes (including McCormack's Civ Pro) will go on remotely at the scheduled time on the 16th and 17th. Students in those classes will be contacted directly by their Professor with instructions.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 18, all classes and meetings will be moved online. (Note this is a move of your current classes to a virtual format, you are not registering for new online classes). You will receive instructions from your professor on how to join the class.

For those who are not able to access classes online, we will work with you and our IT department to find a solution. To contact IT, email helpdesk@vermontlaw.edu.

We have been in touch with the American Bar Association (ABA) and are confident that these changes will not run afoul of ABA standards and guidance.

Be sure to stock up on food, medicine, and other routine supplies you may need over the next couple of weeks. If you rely on the Student Pantry, please email Ashley Ziai for assistance. We have a few local volunteers willing to help with transportation to and from the grocery store or pharmacy – if you need a ride, please email Ashley Ziai, Theresa Johnson, or Associate Dean Jefferson and they will connect you with a volunteer, if possible.

VLS discourages personal domestic and international travel by students, staff, or faculty, except for the purpose of returning home. VLS has instituted travel restrictions for VLS-sponsored travel for staff and faculty.

If anyone in our community requires assistance, whether technical, illness, or are not able to access groceries or other necessities, contact Vice Dean McCormack, Associate Dean Jefferson, or email the covid19@vermontlaw.edu address.

As Vermont Law School transitions to its temporary online teaching environment, students will continue to have access to certain remote library services. While the Vermont Law School Library building is physically closed, Library staff will continue to work remotely for library needs and support during business hours. You will have continuous access to databases, ebooks, online study aids, and article ILL requests. Reference and research questions can be sent to reference@vermontlaw.edu. For the full details of resources and services we offering during this special time, please check out the remote library services guide (pdf).

A number of publishers are providing temporary, online access to their casebooks.

Each publisher has different rules, below. Please contact the email the VLS library for Bluebook (online) access.

Aspen and Wolters Kluwer

Wolters Kluwer is providing temporary access to their casebooks through the VitalSource Helps Program. Follow these instructions to create your Bookshelf account. Downloads are limited to 7 Bookshelf titles per student. This access will expire on May 25, 2020.

  1. Go to https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com.
  2. Create a Bookshelf account, or login if already have one.

    Note: you must use your @vermontlaw.edu email address.
  3. Once logged in, click the Explore tab in the upper-left of the screen.

 

You may also download Bookshelf apps for iOS, Android, Kindle, Chromebook, Mac, and PC.

Questions? See Bookshelf's FAQ and their Getting Started sites.

Carolina Academic Press

Carolina Academic Press is also providing temporary access to their casebooks and guides through the VitalSource Helps Program. Follow these instructions to create your Bookshelf account. Downloads are limited to 7 Bookshelf titles per student.

  1. Go to https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com.
  2. Create a Bookshelf account, or login if already have one.

    Note: you must use your @vermontlaw.edu email address.
  3. Once logged in, click the Explore tab in the upper-left of the screen.

 

You may also download Bookshelf apps for iOS, Android, Kindle, Chromebook, Mac, and PC.

Questions? See Bookshelf's FAQ and their Getting Started sites.

Foundations and West Academic

If you have your print casebook, the publisher asks us to emphasize that you please do not seek access to the online version. They are not prepared to handle the volume of calls if all students seek online access.

  1. You must first have a West Academic account (this not Westlaw; similar names, different companies). You may already have an individual account through our West Academic Study Aids subscription (you needed one in order to download a study aid), in which case use that account. If not, create an account here, https://eproducts.westacademic.com/.
  2. Call or email West Academic and ask to set up your individual ebook. Call 877.888.1330 (ext.4) or email support@westacademic.com.
  3. No proof of prior purchase is required

 

Lexis Publishing

Lexis Publishing is offering some title-by-title access to individuals when contacted directly. Individual students must call 1-800-833-9844 to see if they are eligible. We will update this information if this process changes.

More & Non-law Textbooks

Another option for textbook access is RedShelf https://www.about.redshelf.com/redshelfresponds. They offer several (mostly non-law) publishers’ books through May 25th. Students are limited to 7 titles. VLS is on their list of qualifying schools.

The VLS Food Pantry has temporarily moved to the Royalton Food Shelf. The Royalton Food Shelf has helped many students in the past, and we are grateful to them for allowing us this partnership.

If you are in need, please visit the Royalton Food Shelf at 2955 VT-14, South Royalton. Call ahead at 802-587-2621 and they will have your order ready for outside pick-up.

The Royalton Food Shelf is also looking for volunteers to make deliveries to elderly community members. If you are looking for a way to safely lend a hand during this time of isolation, please call Ms. Anna Wright at 802-356-0922.

There are two citation resources that you can now access online:

The Bluebook

The VLS library has been able to obtain individual access keys for the online version of the Bluebook that they can send to any current student or faculty/staff member who needs one during the shutdown. These keys are good for 60 days from activation. The publisher is providing these as a courtesy to law schools that have been affected by closings this spring.

If you need to use the Bluebook online, email reference@vermontlaw.edu and you will be sent an individual-use key.

The Redbook

To use the Redbook and other West Academic textbooks online, you can request access by calling West Academic (WA) directly. WA is making ebooks available to those who need them for a class but don’t have access to a print copy. Just follow these steps:

  • Make sure that you have a West Academic account before you call in. If you need to create one, do so here: https://eproducts.westacademic.com/ (Note: a West Academic account is different from your existing Westlaw account. These are two separate products.)
  • Call West Academic at 877.888.1330 (ext.4) to set up your ebook(s).

 

With the physical campus closed and all events cancelled, student groups may reschedule their meetings or events virtually. For more information or to schedule a virtual event, email Britny Town.

Currently enrolled students who are in need of funds should submit an online application and supporting documentation by clicking here. A committee — made up of faculty and staff members from both the Office of the Dean of Students and Financial Aid Office — reviews the submitted applications and determines the appropriate funding amount.

For more information on the COVID-19 Hardship Fund and the application process, please click here.

Health

Practice and promote good, basic hygiene; wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid close contact people who are sick; cover your coughs and sneezes; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; stay home if you are sick; practice social distancing; and continue to check your VLS email at least daily for information.

To stay informed, please visit the CDC and World Health Organization websites, where you will find the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Those impacted by the coronavirus should contact Dean Jefferson, Dean McCormack, or their supervisor. While the risk of coronavirus remains low, we are prepared to respond, following all directions from the CDC, and we will continue to monitor the situation. We will provide further updates as needed.

Please also remember that Vermont Law School has a strict non-discrimination, non-harassment policy. Discrimination toward staff, students or guests based on fears or concerns will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Rather, we hope that everyone at VLS will reach out to anyone in need and move forward together as a community.

We realize that the spread of COVID-19 and the precautionary closing of our physical campus, might bring forth a rush of emotion and mental health concerns – anxiety, depression, isolation/withdrawal, etc. – rest assured that mental health services will still be available.

The Clara Martin Center will still be available to you. You may call 802-728-4466 x 468 to schedule an appointment, either in-person at the Randolph location, or remotely via phone, while campus is closed. The Center is also researching secure technology options that could make video calling possible. Please call the Access Team at the number above to discuss options. Remember, you are allotted 5 free sessions with a Clara Martin Center counselor, per semester, so please take advantage of this important resource if you need to. If you find yourself in need of immediate assistance, please call the 24 hour emergency line at 1-800-639-6360.

Ashley Ziai, Manager of Mental Health Services & Academic Accommodations, is available to assist the VLS community with resources, guidance, or to just listen. We are doing our best to make sure the next couple of weeks go as smoothly as possible. We know it will be stressful, so please don't hesitate to reach out.

No matter where you are staying during the campus closure, please be sure to limit any unnecessary physical/close proximity contact with others. This means, when possible, stay home. Do not attend large events (or even small ones), make your trip to the grocery store count by purchasing enough rations to last at least a week, try to avoid unnecessary contact with others as much as possible – even if you are healthy and have a promising chance of recovery if you contract this illness, there is serious risk for passing it to others, even if you are not exhibiting symptoms.

Until further notice, the VLS Fitness Center is closed to students and the public.

Even though the Fitness Center will be closed, exercise is still important for your wellbeing. Please consider making time for outdoor activity (refraining from close contact with anyone), or creating space for physical activity within your home.

Technology

VLS intends to host virtual classes due to the physical campus closure. All classes will be held online starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020 (some will begin Monday, March 16).

VLS is using Microsoft Teams to teach class virtually. This is available via browser in your Office.com/O365 dashboard. You can choose to stay in the browser version or download the desktop application. A mobile app is also available for download.

Note: Some professors may elect to use other platforms and if so will contact you with instructions on how to access class.

Please note: For the best experience, VLS IT recommends using the downloaded desktop app for Teams. If you are using an Apple computer, you will need to use Firefox or Google Chrome as your web browser. Teams is not supported on Safari.

If your professor chooses to use Teams, you will receive a meeting invite from them. If you are unsure of whether or not your professor plans to use Teams, please check with them directly.

Accessing & Downloading Teams

  1. Open a web browser and go to: https://teams.microsoft.com/
  2. Sign in with your VLS email address and password.
  3. Please note: Teams is also available by browsing to: https://www.office.com
  4. Sign in and then click the Teams icon.

 

If you would like to download the desktop app:

  1. The first time you log in to Teams on the web, a pop-up window will invite you to download the desktop app. Just click it.
  2. Wait for the download to complete, and then click the download to install.
  3. Alternatively, click the download button at the lower left.

  4. Please note: Teams is also available by browsing to: https://www.office.com

 

Teams can also be downloaded to your smartphone: https://teams.microsoft.com/downloads

 

Additional Resources

Teams System Requirements:
Will it work with my Windows, Apple, Android and Apple iOS device?
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/hardware-requirements-for-the-teams-app

Teams Basics How-To videos:
Listed here are multiple very short tutorial videos to get you started.
https://support.office.com/en-us/article/microsoft-teams-video-training-4f108e54-240b-4351-8084-b1089f0d21d7

On-Campus Teams Training video:
This video contains information about GoToMeeting, Teams and OneDrive. It is specific to staff and faculty, but may be beneficial to students as well.

https://vimeo.com/396531750/1b2038d8f2

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact the VLS IT Helpdesk: helpdesk@vermontlaw.edu

As you are aware, Vermont Law School intends to host virtual classes due to the physical campus closure. All classes will be held online starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020 (some will begin Monday, March 16). VLS is using Microsoft Teams to teach class virtually.

Teach a Class with MS Teams thumbnail

Here is a quick guide for teaching a class with Teams. https://www.vermontlaw.edu/sites/default/files/2020-03/Teaching_a_Class_with_Teams.pdf

Included in the guide are links to additional resources such as how to record your session and the link to the video of the on-campus Teams session.


Take advantage of help from the VLS Community
If you require assistance in Teams use or just have additional questions, in addition to IT Staff being available, we have some VLS community members willing to help.

 

IT has created a Teams help and support site. The site is focused on Teams questions IT has received, Teams basics, and is also a portal to more advanced support topics posted to the Teams Microsoft support site.
https://vermontlaw.sharepoint.com/sites/TeamsSupport/SitePages/Home.aspx.

Several Internet providers are making their networks available for free (where geographically applicable):

  • Comcast Opens Xfinity Wi-Fi Network Nationally for Free - https://corporate.comcast.com/covid-19
  • Xfinity Wi-Fi Free For Everyone: Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots and then launch a browser.
  • AT&T - https://about.att.com/pages/COVID-19.html Consistent with FCC Chairman Pai’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” announced today and concerns raised by members of Congress, which we share, AT&T is proud to support our customers by pledging that, for the next 60 days (as of March 13, 2020), we will Keep our public Wi-Fi hotspots open for any American who needs them.
  • T-Mobile - https://www.t-mobile.com/brand/ongoing-updates-covid-19#customers T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers on our current plans with limited data with data will automatically have unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days (excluding roaming). No action required.

 

If you need assistance accessing or using TWEN, email Chenfang Yang.

Below are instructions to forward your phone to an outside line and to check your voicemail remotely. We also have the ability to send your voicemail messages as audio attachments to your VLS email. If you would like to sign up for this service, please email helpdesk@vermontlaw.edu.

Forward Phone

  1. Pick up the receiver of your desk phone to get a dial tone.
  2. Dial **2 to start the forward and then the outside number, including 9 and 1, where you would like to receive calls. For example, if a cell phone number is (555) 555-1234, then you would dial **2-9-1-(555) 555-1234. You will hear a succession of 9 beeps to let you know the forward is on.
  3. To REMOVE the forward, pick up the receiver of your desk phone to get a dial tone and dial #2.

 

Accessing your voicemail from Off-Campus or someone else's telephone From Off-Campus

  1. Dial 802-831-1099
  2. Enter your extension while the attendant says "Welcome to the Message Center"
  3. When your mailbox greeting starts, press * (star, once)
  4. Enter your passcode to access your voicemail messages

 

Email Audio Files of Voicemails

  1. Audio files of your voicemail can be sent to your VLS email and played through a media/music player.
  2. Send a request to helpdesk@vermontlaw.edu titled “Voicemail Emails.”

 

If you require IT assistance, please submit an IT Helpdesk request by sending an email to: helpdesk@vermontlaw.edu

Sending an email to this address automatically creates a ticket in our system.

We are currently experiencing a high volume of phone requests as well as ticket requests, but tickets are much more manageable for the IT Team to process. If you are experiencing an IT emergency, please call the IT Helpdesk at 802-831-1355, but if it's a non-emergency, please submit a ticket request and we will address the issue as quickly as we can.

 

As we move forward, communication is crucial. Vermont Law School uses an emergency notification system called Regroup or VLS Alerts.

Sign up for VLS Alerts:

You can sign up for VLS Alerts here: https://vermontlaw.regroup.com/login. To log in, enter your VLS username and password.

Put it on your phone:

Regroup has a free app called Alertme available for download to Android and iPhone devices. Regroup already communicates over cellular networks and through email, but having the app on your cellular device provides an additional means of communication as notifications will be delivered over wifi.

The Alertme app can be found in the Google Play store or Apple iTunes. Just search for Alertme. Sign on with your full VLS email address and vls password. If you have difficulty signing in, click the Forgot Password link for a password reset.

Here are some direct links to the app stores:
Apple iTunes for iPhones/iPads
Google Play Store for Android

Please consider installing Alertme. It provides you an additional means of emergency communication.