DATE: March 12, 2020

Dear Students, Field Instructors, Agency Coordinators and Liaisons:

As you may know from a recent communication from Dean Barth, the University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMSSW) has been actively planning for the possibility of any impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on students’ ability to complete this semester of the MSW program. The SSW, and particularly the Office of Field Education (OFE), hold your safety and well-being at a premium as you work together to complete student field requirements. This communication intends to provide all students, field instructors, agency coordinators and liaisons with information that will be helpful to you in the event that COVID-19 affects field placement.

We expect ALL students to do the following:

  1. Continue your work in field placement.
  2. Foundation students should continue to participate in field seminars as scheduled.
  3. Immediately talk with your field instructors about any impact COVID-19 may have on your placement experience. If you do not have field for the remainder of this week, you must call or email your field instructor outside of your field hours.  
  4. Email this information to your field liaisons by Sunday, 3/15/20.
  5. Please keep in mind that many agencies that employ social workers (e.g. hospitals, long-term care facilities, child welfare agencies) cannot close during the outbreak of a contagious disease. If your placement is in one of those agencies, there should be protocols for the management of infectious disease. 
  6. You should follow all protocols at your agency to ensure your safety. 

We recognize some agencies may choose to close in order to proactively avoid COVID-19 exposure, or may opt to discontinue student attendance in field to prevent outside exposure to vulnerable clients. If your agency closes for these reasons, you MUST do the following:

  1. Contact your field instructor and field liaison immediately – even if it is not your field day.
  2. Set up a time to discuss a plan for alternative assignments with your field instructor and email the date to your liaison.

If you are in a high medical risk category, you may qualify for accommodations through Educational Supports and Disability Services (ESDS). If you believe that you need accommodations in field placement due to possible exposure to COVID-19, please immediately contact ESDS at or 410-706-5889, or visit their website at

Our partnerships with our field instructors and agencies are incredibly valuable, and we appreciate all efforts to work with us and our students to manage this particularly difficult time. To that end, we respectfully ask the following from our field instructors:

  1. If you are aware that the COVID-19 outbreak may impact your student’s field placement, please share this information immediately with your student(s), who must then convey this information to their liaisons by Sunday, 3/15. 
  2. If you are in an agency that cannot close during an outbreak of contagious disease, process this reality and your role and ethical obligations as a social work employee with your student. 
  3. Create a schedule for supervision – online or by phone – for your students’ remaining time in field.
  4. If it appears that your student may not be able to complete their field placement with you, please plan to set aside a date to talk with your student about an alternative plan.  
  5. Contact your student(s) field liaison(s) if you have any questions.

Liaisons and seminar instructors continue to play a key role in working with our active students and agencies. We ask the following of our liaisons/seminar instructors:

  1. Seminar instructors should continue to hold seminar online without interruption.
  2. Determine the amount of time each of your students must complete to satisfy the field requirement.
  3. Ensure all of your students have reported any impact of COVID-19 on their field placement by Sunday, 3/15, and the date on which they will create an alternative plan with their field instructors.
  4. Contact your students’ field coordinator if you have any questions.

This communication is designed to address short-term field placement disruptions. Additional instructions will be provided as needed. Please share this communication with field instructors, agency coordinators, students, liaisons, and any other stakeholders for the UMSSW MSW field education experience. We will do our best to ensure everyone receives accurate information as timely as possible. For more information and updates from the UMSSW and UMB, please go to: or

We take your health and well-being seriously. We have every intention to provide field opportunities to allow each student to learn, grow and make progress towards graduation. We hope that this information is helpful to you, and encourage you to contact us at any time if you have questions or concerns.  

All the best,
Samuel B. Little, PhD, LCSW-C
Associate Dean, Field Education
Laura Loessner, MSW, LICSW, LCSW-C
Assistant Director, Field Education