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Section 3.05.00: Absences, Schedule Conflicts & Emergency Policies

Classroom Schedule Conflicts
Class offerings throughout the four terms are organized to accommodate students' academic requirements. On occasion, the student or field site may find it necessary to schedule a field activity during class time. In this event, the student must obtain permission from their class instructor to miss the class. A single occasion may be acceptable to most instructors—a planned pattern of absences is not. Scheduling conflicts are a professional decision making opportunity for the student, and field faculty are available to assist with this decision making.

Field is also a class; therefore, a student should not skip field activities to study or complete classroom assignments without first discussing this with their field instructor.

Absences From Field Placement
Satisfactory attendance and communication around absences is a technical standard of any student in field education and is a standard for professional behavior. If a student is unable to attend field as scheduled (religious holidays, illness, injury, family emergency, etc.), the student must notify the field instructor in a timely and professional manner. This would also include collaboration with the field instructor to make-up the hours missed. Please be aware that a “no call, no show” absence is professionally unacceptable and may result in the student's dismissal from the field site.

The details of making up hours is up to the field instructor and student. The ultimate requirement is that the student completes the necessary number of field hours per term.

There may be circumstances in which a student is absent for legitimate reasons for an extended period of time, and as a result the hours cannot be made up in the same term. In this case, the field instructor and field faculty can approve a plan for the student to make up hours the subsequent term. The student will be granted a grade of I until the hours are complete, and then it will be updated to IS, IM or IU, depending on the student’s earned grade. To learn more about an issued I or “Incomplete” grade, see
volume 1, section 7.01 of the Student Guide.

Students and field instructors are encouraged to notify the field faculty immediately if there are issues surrounding the attendance of the student.

Students participate in field education on assigned days throughout the term, with the exception of university holidays and recesses which include fall study break, Thanksgiving, winter break (December), spring recess (February), legal holidays, and other holidays officially observed by the field site. Because other days may be of more significance than a university-designated holiday, a student may also request an absence for these days. Students must complete the required clock hours for field each term and holidays or recesses do not count toward the accumulation of field clock hours.

When university recesses and holidays conflict with those of the field site, it is expected that the student will observe the schedule of the university. However, with certain clinical placements, the agency may require the student to be present during more lengthy breaks to assure appropriate care of clients. We encourage students to inquire about this during the interview process or at the start of your placement. It is also acceptable if the field site agrees, that the student may elect instead to observe field site recesses and holidays, provided the required number of field hours are fulfilled. Attendance at conferences or all-day professional meetings is permitted and count as field hours when the content pertains to the student's field assignments and the field instructor has given approval.

Severe Weather Policy
There will be times when severe weather, especially snow and ice, will make the student question whether it is safe to commute to field. Students are expected to make every reasonable effort to attend field in accordance with their schedule. At the same time, students are advised to use good judgment about the risks of travel. Students must make their own judgment about the safety of coming in these situations. If they deem it unsafe, they need to provide adequate notification to their field instructor. Again, makeup arrangements are to be worked out between the field instructor and student. This is another professional decision-making opportunity that students are likely to encounter during their professional careers.

When a field placement and the University have made different decisions regarding the weather cancellations, the student should defer to the field placement. Exceptions to this are rare and determined by the dean of the U-M SSW and the assistant dean for field education.

Field Education Continuity Plan for Disruption of Field Placement Activities Due to Local, State or National Events (ie, COVID 19 Pandemic)
The U-M SSW has developed plans to address temporary disruption to students' social work field placements due to local, state or national emergencies or events. If students are advised or required by their field site, the university, and/or local, state or federal governments to restrict travel and stay home, or if safety concerns warrant a temporary disruption in field placement, students should immediately consult with BOTH their field faculty and their field instructor(s).

In efforts to fulfill the student's hour requirements and educational competencies during temporary field placement disruption, OFE, in collaboration with the field site, will assist in providing alternative field learning activities that can be completed remotely or off site.

Employment Conflicts
All students should be in field at least 16 hours per week for each term that they are enrolled in field education. Field education terms should be consecutive. Many students have full-time or part-time employment while enrolled in the MSW program and request field schedules to accommodate their employment schedules. These requests generally cannot be honored by the school because students need to accommodate the field site's scheduling requirements in order to allow the student to participate fully in field.

Students who work full-time are strongly encouraged to either reduce their work hours to no more than 20 hours per week while they are enrolled in classes and 16 hours per week of field, or take longer to complete the MSW program than the standard four terms such as is offered in the extended degree program. If students have questions related to schedule conflicts with field education they should contact the Office of Field Education to discuss potential options.

Emergency Policy
1. If the School of Social Work/University of Michigan is closed due to an emergency, the student should follow the School's policies related to attendance and notification.
2. If the field site is closed due to an emergency, the student should follow the field site's policies related to attendance and notification.

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