The arrival of the coronavirus in New York is taking a toll on two of the city’s law schools.
New York Law School canceled classes Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in order to clean and disinfect its building, while the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law also disinfected its campus on Tuesday. One student from each school had come into contact with a lawyer currently being treated for COVID-19.
That lawyer, a 50-year old who works in the Midtown trusts and estates firm Lewis and Garbuz, was New York state’s second confirmed case of coronavirus. There are now six confirmed cases—four are neighbors or members of the lawyer’s family.
The Cardozo student who was exposed to the now-hospitalized attorney is currently in a voluntary quarantine, according to an email Tuesday from law dean Melanie Leslie.
“The student has no symptoms of the illness and has been assessed by the New York City Department of Health, which has told the student they are likely not in any danger and do not need to be quarantined,” Leslie wrote. “In an abundance of caution, the student has decided to remain in their home for the time being.”
In addition to cleaning and disinfecting the law school, Cardozo will be start recording classes, according to Leslie. The school has not canceled classes.
New York Law School went a step further in closing its facility to allow for the disinfection and cleaning of its campus. According to a message posted early Wednesday to the school’s website, a student voluntarily disclosed Tuesday evening that they had come into contact with the lawyer who tested positive for COVID-19.
“Our student acted responsibly and with great consideration for our community,” wrote law dean Anthony Crowell.
The school then contacted the city’s health department, which plans to interview and test the student for the virus. Both the student and the student’s roommate are in a self-quarantine. Crowell wrote that the campus closure will last “at least” a day. The school later updated its website to clarify that the closure and cleaning was done “out of an abundance of caution” and had not been ordered by the city’s health department. Students need not self-isolate and should attend their off-campus internships and externships, according to the updated notice.
New York Law School opted to remain closed on Thursday and Friday as well. There were no regularly scheduled classes on Friday, which marks the beginning of the school’s spring break. Some professors are opting to hold small group sessions or student meetings off campus, according to the school.
The developing coronavirus situation in New York is, thus far, far less disruptive than it has been for law schools in China, many of which have postponed classes altogether in a bid to slow to spread of the virus. For example, the Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen has fully transitioned to online classes in order to restart the semester. The school, which is the only one to offer both a U.S. law curriculum taught in English and a Chinese Law curriculum, has enlisted the help of Mitchell Hamline College of Law, which pioneered the online J.D. program in the U.S.