Education News

South Texas College of Law Houston sets the bar for legal education during COVID-19

Written by Mamie M. Arndt

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, South Texas College of Law Houston took the initiative to plan for both its incoming and current students.

Administrators and faculty brainstormed to create a course of action to ensure everyone’s safety and ability to stay on track with their education. After surveying students for their preferences, the law school implemented a hybrid plan with in-person and online classes.

With safety in mind, STCL Houston created course schedules and expanded classrooms to allow social

distancing.

Each faculty classroom podium has three large panels of plexiglass around it so students can hear instructors clearly and see their faces as they teach.

Classrooms also are cleaned after each class, and no sequential classes are held in the same room without

being sanitized first. Individual study space has been expanded to allow students to study on campus.

Students Lorena Valle and Eric B. Williams II have been impressed with STCL Houston’s efforts to ensure their success with updates, learning resources and study spaces.

‘Current circumstances’

“My experience going back to STCL has been better than I expected given the current circumstances,” Williams said. “The STCL Houston administration has gone above and beyond in ensuring that our quality

of education has not decreased. President and Dean Michael F. Barry regularly updates the STCL Houston community with the school’s COVID-19 response and any other pertinent information we need.”

Valle has continued her classes online and taken advantage of the open campus to study.

“I have felt incredibly safe while on campus. There are procedures in place such as one-way hallways

and a limit on people on the elevator. They have also implemented an app that allows me to know when I am too close to another person and to provide contact tracing while on campus,” Valle said.

Remote learning solutions

Interactions with professors have changed as well, with most meetings held via Zoom.

“The faculty has done a great job of delivering substantive content remotely. Several professors utilize the white board and PowerPoint features to add an extra level of reinforcement to their lectures. Others opt for remote polling apps for quizzes or to screen-share videos. I feel I am getting a similar caliber of education as if we were on campus,” Williams said.

Valle said professors have allowed students to make appointments.

“Also, I have continued to email professors, and they have given prompt replies. I feel that though we are remote, I have still been able to work with professors and ask questions,” Valle said.

Both are encouraged by their overall learning experiences thus far.

“I feel optimistic about this upcoming year. I am prepared to continue my pursuit of becoming a lawyer in an online environment,” Williams said.

Valle echoed that sentiment.

“Now that we have had a full semester online, I feel I have a better understanding of how I can adjust my studying to fit my needs. I will continue to work hard, stay focused, keep a routine, and reach out to my professors to have a successful year in my studies,” Valle said.

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About the author

Mamie M. Arndt