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Harvard Law Opts for Virtual Classes to Limit Coronavirus Spread

March 10, 2020, 6:30 PM

Harvard Law School will shift from in-person instruction to remote classes beginning on March 23, immediately following the school’s spring break, in order to limit the possible spread of coronavirus.

President Larry Bacow announced the policy, which applies to the law school and the rest of the Cambridge, Mass., university’s students, on Tuesday.

“The decision to move to virtual instruction was not made lightly,” Bacow wrote in a letter to the Harvard community. “The goal of these changes is to minimize the need to gather in large groups and spend prolonged time in close proximity with each other in spaces such as classrooms, dining halls, and residential buildings.”

“Our actions are consistent with the recommendations of leading health officials on how to limit the spread of COVID-19 and are also consistent with similar decisions made by a number of our peer institutions,” Bacow added.

In-person classes will continue at Harvard through March 13, when the break begins. After that students have been asked to attend classes remotely “until further notice.”

The law school campus will remain open for normal operations, according to the university. However, Harvard has asked students who are able to do so to not return to campus after spring break.

Harvard is one of the biggest name law schools to suspend in-person classes amid mounting fears about the spread of the coronavirus.

Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, and other law schools in California and New York have already made the switch to remote instruction to help prevent its spread. The governors of New York and California both declared states of emergency in the last week.

On March 6, Stanford University announced that it would suspend in-person classes for two weeks beginning this past Monday.

This week, the dean of Berkeley Law said the school would cancel all law school in-person events and teach all classes remotely from Tuesday until March 26.

Columbia suspended classes on Monday and Tuesday in order to allow its professors and staff to shift to remote teaching.

Other New York law schools that have temporarily canceled in-person classes include Fordham and Hofstra.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Russell-Kraft in New York at
To contact the editor on this story: Rebekah Mintzer in New York at