Dear students, faculty, and staff:

I am writing today to inform you that the law school administration has made the difficult decision that teaching during the Winter Term 2021 will be entirely remote.
As you know, under a series of provincial emergency orders the province was placed in a ‘shutdown’ on December 26, 2020, which was to have lasted until at least January 23, 2021. However, within the last few days a new emergency order imposes a ‘stay at home’ rule which will last until at least February 11, 2021. The provincial government has indicated that it will keep the public health situation under review to determine whether the shutdown will be extended.

Under the provincial orders, in-person teaching in post-secondary institutions is (subject to certain exceptions) prohibited. Although most of our courses this term are being taught remotely anyway, we had planned for some limited in-person teaching in our first-year program. After corresponding with instructors who were scheduled to teach in person this term, the Associate and Assistant Deans and I have concluded that it is in the best interests of the law school community to make the decision now to shift all teaching to a fully online format for the entirety of the term.

I know that some students and faculty members were looking forward to returning to the classroom in person at some point during the term and will be disappointed by this decision. However, there are a number of reasons why moving to fully remote teaching makes sense. One factor is simply the calendar. The University has encouraged students to remain at home until the shutdown ends, and it will ask students to self-isolate for two weeks upon their return to Kingston; this delay, coupled with reading week, means that we could not begin in-person teaching until late February/early March.

Another important factor is simply our desire to provide students, faculty, and staff with a sense of certainty about what to expect this term. The public health situation is still worsening, vaccines will not be widely available for some time, and there is a reasonable chance that the shutdown will be extended. Uncertainty about teaching methods may contribute to what are already stressful conditions for all concerned. The safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff during this pandemic must be the highest priority. With this decision, people can now make plans and preparations about their classes knowing what to expect. We are, as always, committed to making the educational experience as enriching and meaningful as possible under the circumstances.  

What does this mean?

  • All Winter Term 2021 classes will be delivered remotely.
  • We will continue to provide IT support to ensure the high quality of remote teaching and learning.
  • We will continue to support instructors in adopting best practices in the delivery of online classes.
  • The law school building will be closed to students, and also to faculty and staff unless access is essential to support administrative, teaching, or research functions, until further notice.
  • For Library services, please consult:…
  • Students enrolled in courses at the Queen's Law Clinics will be contacted by the respective clinic directors about any on-site work requirements.

I know how challenging, frustrating, and unsettling for all of you the disruptions caused the pandemic have been. I am very grateful to everyone within the Queen’s Law community who has worked so hard to address the unusual situation. For students, our objective is to get you through the year successfully – and for those of you in third year to have you graduate on time so that you can advance to the next stage in your career.  Although this has been a hard time, I do think that you will emerge from this pandemic with new skills and resources, and you will be able to confront challenges ahead equipped with resilience, focus, and determination.

I wish everyone continued health, both mental and physical, as we all navigate these uncertain times. 


Take care,

Mark Walters