Law schools in North and South Carolina canceled classes Tuesday in advance of Hurricane Florence, which was churning toward the coast as a Category 4 storm.
The Charleston School of Law, which is located within South Carolina’s mandatory evacuation zone, has called off classes and closed campus for the remainder of the week, and plans to reopen on Monday. Further inland in Columbia, the University of South Carolina School of Law canceled classes Tuesday but as of midday Tuesday had yet to announce how long the campus will remain closed.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Sunday ordered an evacuation of the state’s coastline, with schools and other government services closing Tuesday. Florence’s projected path has since moved north, with landfall expected near Wilmington, North Carolina, Thursday evening. But the early closures are intended to spur residents to leave coastal areas.
None of North Carolina’s six law schools is located on the coast in that state’s evacuation zone, but some have also announced plans to close in preparation for Florence. Classes at the University of North Carolina School of Law are canceled starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday to allow for students to travel home. Classes are also canceled Wednesday through Friday at North Carolina Central University School of Law. Wake Forest University School of Law said a decision on closing campus was expected later in the day. Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law closed at noon Wednesday through at least Friday.
The Charleston School of Law is only three weeks into the fall semester, said spokesman Andy Brack. Thus, the disruptions to the academic calendar should be minimal.
“The Charleston School of Law anticipates weather events, particularly in the fall, so we already have makeup days built into the schedule,” Brack said. “The school plans for hurricanes.”
The American Bar Association requires that students spend a certain number of hours in the classroom in order to receive course credit. Major natural disasters can send administrators scrambling to make up for lost time.
Peggy Binnette, a spokeswoman for the University of South Carolina School of Law, said its closure is day-to-day and that administrators are awaiting further orders from the governor. No decision on class makeup days will be made until the campus reopens, she added.
Hurricane Harvey caused headaches for Houston’s three law schools last fall, each of which escaped major damage but were closed for a week while floodwaters ravaged parts of the city. Flooding prevented some students from getting to campus even when they reopened, while others lost homes and cars in the storm.
Natural disasters often create opportunities for law schools to get involved in recovery efforts, such as assisting storm victims in filing insurance claims and paperwork with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.