Learning and Teaching During COVID-19

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Social Work Communications

Below you will find the spring/summer email communications sent to incoming MSW. These weekly emails highlight various topics, containing important and helpful information. As new ones are sent, they will be added here.

Important Information on Classes and Field this Fall for Incoming MSW Students

Dear Incoming MSW Students,

We are beyond thrilled to announce that we will be welcoming students to Ann Arbor this fall for a public health-informed, in-residence semester. This will consist of a mixture of in-person and remote classes, structured to reflect our commitment to promoting public health, while fulfilling our fundamental mission of transformative graduate education. This will be conducted with the very best guidance and ideas from our leading scholars, innovative students and expert staff.

Our campus may be restricted because of the pandemic, but we’re still here to provide resources and connect with you virtually. More updates will be provided on the School of Social Work website and our social media channels. Please reach out to the Office of Student Services if you have any questions.

We know this message is long, but believe the length is necessary for clarity.

The fall semester will look and feel very different due to the challenges of COVID-19, and will bring with it new protocols and strategies that are necessary to keep our social work community safe. We will ask each of you to adopt health and safety actions that will embody our commitment to caring for one another. A committee of SSW students, faculty and staff is currently working on the building re-entry guidelines. We will be sharing these with you in the next few weeks.

The university's Maize and Blueprint website provides comprehensive information about U-M’s implementation plan, guiding principles and current status.


  • We are excited to be able to offer Fall SEED Orientation virtually via Canvas with a combination of synchronous live Zoom meetings and asynchronous recorded videos and materials.
  • All incoming MSW students will be added to a “Fall SEED Orientation” Canvas course before orientation week begins. Various online activities are scheduled each day during Fall SEED Orientation Week, August 25 - August 28, including group virtual meetings with faculty advisors, a pre-field education workshop (if starting field in the fall) and more.


  • SSW will begin the semester on August 31.
  • We explored options for arranging in-person class offerings, while maintaining a one-third building capacity to allow social distancing. To accomplish this, in-person class sessions will be held roughly once every 3 weeks (schedule to be finalized soon), using only the large classrooms. Information on your in-person class sessions will be provided at the earliest date possible.
  • We anticipate that there will be a percentage of our students who must be exclusively remote this fall due to factors like health status, caregiving responsibilities, housing or immigration/visa issues. For this reason, we will be offering a number of our classes and class sections fully online this fall. Determinations are being made now about which classes these will be. If you will need to take all of your classes exclusively online, please complete this form by July 6, 2020.
  • There will be no fall break in October.
  • The last day of in-person classes for the fall term will be November 20.
  • Fall classes resume online only on November 30 and run through December 8, with exams and final projects also conducted online.


  • Winter semester will begin on January 18 with a day celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Classes will begin on January 19 and meet continuously through April 20.
  • There will be no spring break.
  • Final exams will run April 22-29.


  • Field education officially begins the week of August 31.
  • Field education officially ends on December 17.
  • Most 16-month and 20-month students are not scheduled to begin field education in the fall term.
  • We anticipate that field education in the fall will include both in-person and remote learning activities, depending on the field site.
  • In-person field education will include public health and safety measures specific to the field site.
  • Entirely remote field education for fall term is a potential option. If you are interested in this, please contact your field faculty. If you will need to complete field remotely, please complete this form by July 6, 2020. You may use the Field Decision-Making Tool to help guide you.
  • Out-of-sequence field options can also be considered and should be discussed with your field faculty and/or the field office.


  • Field education officially begins the week of January 18.
  • Field education officially ends on April 24.
  • We anticipate that field education in the winter may include both in-person and remote learning activities depending on the field site.
  • In-person field education will include public health and safety measures specific to the field site.
  • Entirely remote field education for winter term is a potential option and should be discussed with the field office this fall. Use the Field Decision-Making Tool to help guide you.


Our collective safety requires we all do our part by practicing robust personal hygiene habits, wearing a face covering when appropriate, maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet and staying home when sick.

  • Per the State of Michigan Executive order, any individual able to medically tolerate a face covering must wear a covering over their nose and mouth — such as a homemade mask, scarf or bandana — in a building.
  • U-M has developed a health screening tool to test for infection, support self-monitoring and comply with any statewide executive orders that may be in effect.
  • U-M is providing a kit for each student with masks and hand sanitizer.
  • U-M custodial teams will increase the cleaning frequency of high-touch surfaces in common spaces using disinfectants.
  • Everyone is encouraged to clean and disinfect tables and chairs in classrooms and common areas after use.


  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • You can only enter the building from the main entrance at South University and East University.
  • Upon entry through you will be asked to participate in a brief screening process which includes 5 questions and a temperature check.
  • Everyone entering the building must complete the U-M Health Screen app once a day.
  • To speed this process along and to avoid delays, complete the online health screening and be ready to present the completed screen to the person monitoring the door.
  • To reduce contact, there will be new traffic patterns in the building.
  • Restrooms and classrooms are being reconfigured to allow for social distancing.
  • Kitchens and lounges will be closed for the fall semester.
  • U-M is developing plans to protect vulnerable members of our community, and will work with individuals to every extent possible to address their concerns.
  • Meetings and training sessions will be remote using phone or video conferencing.

“As students at the nation’s top public research university, we have the opportunity to show the world that this can be done. At the same time, our ‘public’ responsibility has never been more literal and important.”
—University of Michigan President Mark S. Schlissel

Additional information will be provided soon, including a school-wide fall website.

Go Blue!

Lynn Videka , Dean
Tim Colenback , Assistant Dean for Student Services
Willie Elliott , Director, Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Social Science
Dan Fischer , Assistant Dean of Field Education
Lorraine Gutiérrez , Associate Dean for Educational Programs
Barb Hiltz , MSW Program Director
Erin Zimmer , Director of MSW Student Services

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