Below is an archive of recent messages sent to the Yale Law School community. For the most up-to-date information, visit our COVID-19 landing page.

March 15, 2021

Dear Graduating Students:

I am delighted to follow up on President Salovey’s announcement today that the Law School will be able to hold an in-person commencement for students in May if public health conditions continue to improve. I am very much looking forward to honoring and marking the achievements of the remarkable Class of 2021. I’m especially glad that we will be able to welcome back students who wish to return to campus for the festivities.

In the coming weeks, our staff will be working hard to make sure your commencement is vibrant, celebratory, and inclusive for everyone involved, including those taking part remotely. While we wish your families and friends could join us on this momentous day, we must adhere to health guidelines to ensure the safety of our campus and the New Haven community. We will do everything we can to make sure the day is a special one for them as well. We will also be thinking of ways to further celebrate the Class of 2021 next year once we have a clearer picture of what public health conditions will look like.

More details on commencement will follow in the weeks ahead. The Law School will carefully follow all health and safety precautions to protect those participating in the event. Remote students returning to campus for commencement should look for additional guidelines from the University.

This past year has been an extraordinarily challenging time.  As we head towards spring, this is one of the signs of a more hopeful future ahead of us. It brings me joy to think that we will be able to celebrate the launch of your professional careers together as a community.


Heather K. Gerken

Spring 2021 Messages from Dean Heather Gerken

February 1, 2021

To the Members of the Community:

In August, I wrote that we were embarking on a semester unlike any other in our history. It was a tough semester embedded in a wretched year. But we carried one another through.

There are still many challenges in front of us, but I am confident that the grace and kindness that got us through last semester will help us make it through this one. We have three additional talismans for the next leg of this journey. The first is a lesson from the fall. We now know that sources of sustenance — our vibrant intellectual life, our service mission — will continue to ground us as we push forward. The second is the relief that comes from knowing that the most vulnerable members of our community are starting to get vaccines. And the third? We can now begin to imagine that something different lies ahead.

While change is on the horizon, we cannot let down our guard when it comes to health protocols. The core practices — masks, social distancing, and regular hand washing — are still imperative. Please do refamiliarize yourself with the Law School’s COVID-19 website and the University’s COVID-19 website. The University has been able to expand its mandatory testing capacity to include all students in Baker Hall and those who are enrolled in an in-person or hybrid class. I strongly urge those who aren’t enrolled in mandatory testing to join me in taking advantage of Yale’s free and convenient weekly asymptomatic testing program through Yale Health.

Over the break, we’ve continued to improve the Law School’s hybrid classroom spaces. We’ve been working with the University to build out additional mental health resources for our students. Our faculty and staff, with the help of the student representatives, have also made enormous efforts to distill the lessons learned from our first semester of hybrid teaching and find new ways to improve the educational experience, whether in-person or remote. We have learned a lot over the course of the last 11 months, and we will do everything we can to make this semester a success.

Please take good care of yourselves and one another. And welcome back!


Heather K. Gerken

Fall 2020 Messages from Dean Heather Gerken

November 20, 2020

To the Members of the Community,

When this pandemic first hit, it was clear that we would face a tough year, but it was impossible to predict just how difficult things would be for our community and the world at large. Over the course of the past nine months, we have all been tested unlike ever before. I am proud that this community has shown grace, creativity, and perseverance in the face of every obstacle that has come our way.

In August, as we embarked on the fall semester under a hybrid model of learning, I asked just one thing of each of you — kindness. Today, on the last day of classes, I want to thank all of you who have lived the best values of this school during this challenging period. Many students have gone out of their way to show appreciation for the faculty and staff, all the while engaging in critical work to help the community, their clients, and their classmates. Our faculty spent an extraordinary amount of time creating engaging classes and clinics for all, nurtured our shared intellectual life, and continued to make a difference in the world. And our staff worked nonstop to make hybrid learning possible and keep this institution moving forward. All of this work was done with patience and empathy despite the profound disruptions we’ve all experienced.

Now may not be a time for optimism, but it is one for hope. While we have a ways to go before the country will come out on the other side of this pandemic, I am encouraged by the scientific developments on the horizon. And witnessing this community stand together this fall has given me hope not just for the spring semester, but for the future of this school, the profession, and the many communities we inhabit.

Please rest, stay safe, and take care of yourselves and one another.


Heather K. Gerken

October 1, 2020

To the Members of the Community,

It is hard to believe that we are halfway through fall semester classes. This has been a difficult period for many members of this community, and I’ve been moved by how hard you have worked to help one another and protect our community.

Our success to date has depended on all of you. I have regularly thanked the faculty and staff for doing so much work to make this semester possible. Today I want to thank our students, in particular, for the way you have stepped up to this challenge. You have rigorously adhered to public-health guidelines, you have supported one another, and you have been generous and patient in dealing with the many obstacles along the way this semester. Thank you for being so conscientious and compassionate as we navigate this landscape together.

We must not let up now. By now you know to adhere to the core practices that have helped each of us protect one another and the larger New Haven community — masks, social distancing, and regular hand washing. I strongly encourage you to join me, and a large number of your peers, in getting weekly COVID tests. Asymptotic testing is easy, free, quick, painless, and another important way to protect the community. Finally, as flu season approaches, it is essential that you schedule your flu shot either directly through Yale Health or by bringing a Yale Health voucher to your local CVS.

As we head into the second half of the term, the Law School remains committed to helping every student make it through this semester successfully. The faculty recently met to share lessons learned from the first few weeks of teaching. The Office of Student Affairs has worked tirelessly to provide resources and guidance to students in need, including offering wellness counseling sessions and academic support. Our Financial Aid office also continues to work closely with students to help those who encounter unanticipated financial hardships due to COVID-19 through the YLS Safety Net program. Any student in need of support should email for help. Please continue to check the Law School’s COVID website for the latest information. 

While the road ahead remains uncertain, it has been inspiring to see the Law School flourish even under such extraordinary conditions. Thank you for rising to meet this moment.


Heather K. Gerken

September 3, 2020

To the Members of the Community,

As you know, the University is closely monitoring and regularly posting COVID-19 public health data on campus. While the data are encouraging, I want to remind you how important it is to do everything we can to protect our community.  The University strongly encourages graduate and professional school students, faculty, and staff who are coming to campus to take advantage of the weekly testing program the University has set up. This program allows any student, faculty, or staff member who is on campus to receive a free test up to once a week. Asymptomatic testing is an additional step to protect our community, and I urge all of you to take part in this weekly testing programPlease schedule a COVID test hereIn addition, remember that the university will continue to provide testing and care for symptomatic individuals through Yale Health.

As always, the most important steps all members of the community can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are to wear a face covering in all public spaces, practice social distancing, and regularly wash your hands. Testing is not a substitute for these important practices.

Anyone who has questions about the advisability and frequency of additional asymptomatic testing may call the COVID Campus Resource Line, which is staffed by health care professionals, at 203-432-6604. Law School students can also reach out to


Heather K. Gerken