The Response to COVID-19

Message for Fall 2020

June 17, 2020

Dear JACSW Students,

Amidst the personal and professional challenges of the COVID-19, we are committed to continuing to provide you with the high quality education and instruction for which JACSW is known. In that there is still uncertainty in terms of what the conditions will be like in Chicago in August, and circumstances may change, we want to share the plans in place now for the fall semester.

In response to social distancing guidelines and restrictions on large gatherings the majority of classes will be held online for the fall 2020 semester. As an exception, some sections of social work practice courses and some practice-based elective courses will be offered in-person and will be held in larger classrooms that can accommodate social distancing. However, note that all in-person courses will be designed so that they can transition to online quickly, if needed.

Recognizing that some students may not be able to be physically present for in-person courses due to health vulnerabilities or other reasons, all campus in-person courses will be accessible online as well to accommodate those with documented or approved reasons for exception. At minimum, course materials will be available on Blackboard prior to or synchronous with class meeting time, and recording the class will facilitate students’ access remotely and/or asynchronously. Additional information will be provided regarding your courses from your instructor.

Faculty are working through the summer with UIC instructional designers and JACSW in-house consultants to transition courses to the online format and to develop high quality, student-centered online courses to be ready for implementation in August.

We will be in touch throughout the summer with updates on fall instruction, including the final schedule of courses that will be in-person and online. Please feel free to reach out to us with questions and concerns. The Office of Academic Affairs and Student Services is available to provide information and resources to support your success. See the contact information is provided below.

Warm regards,

Creasie Finney Hairston, PhD
Dean and Professor

Faith Johnson Bonecutter, MSW, LCSW
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Services

Chang-ming Hsieh, PhD
PhD Program Director

Contact Information:

Office of Academic Affairs and Student Services
Rachel Oyelola (royelola@uic.edu)
Hazel Brown (memi@uic.edu)

Updates and Information from UIC Administration:

Message from Spring 2020

March 26, 2020

Dear JACSW Students,

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the lives of the entire University community in many significant ways both professionally and personally.

Students, faculty, and staff are all affected by the pandemic and the uncertainty and disruption it creates. Students are faced with myriad concerns related to their personal health and safety, the well-being of their families and loved ones, their financial stability, and their ability to manage in these unpredictable circumstances. We know and understand that you also have significant concerns about the status and completion of your education, particularly in the face of the University decision to cease face-to-face instruction and to migrate all courses to online and remote modalities and the College’s decision to suspend field instruction. All of us—faculty, staff and students—are facing significant challenges as we deal with this evolving health and economic crisis.

The College’s administration, faculty, and staff recognize these many concerns and the stress and anxiety they engender. With an abundance of caution and your health and safety foremost in mind we are making changes, often more quickly than we would like. We are committed to providing an excellent social work educational program that is also responsive to student situations and concerns brought about by the realities of this major public health crises. In light of disruptions in academic programs caused by the pandemic the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has offered modifications to current accreditation standards related to field instruction hours, assessment, and other issues. Both the College’s suspension of field placements and University’s decision to transition to online instruction comply with these revised standards.

Faculty are concerned about students’ well-being and are clearly aware of the impact that the pandemic and sudden academic changes are having. They will, therefore, be using flexibility and discretion as they migrate course content from face-to-face instruction to online/remote instruction. This may include altering courses and modifying, replacing, or reducing course assignments and requirements set forth in the original course syllabus. Given the nature of social work courses and the different ways in which assignments are made and assessed, changes do not, and will not translate into a percentage time reduction as some students may have suggested. When changes are necessary, we are asking that students be given notice of such changes as soon as possible but no later than the end of the week of March 30, 2020 when classes resume after Spring break.

The suspension of field instruction has also been disruptive to students, clients, and field agencies. As stated in the email distributed by JaneMail on March 24, we recognize the importance of bringing to closure student work with clients and field agencies along with the stress and difficulty it causes. Students are asked to work with their field instructors to coordinate continuity of care and to terminate with clients and the agency. This process will vary given the diversity of student and agency circumstances. In most cases, however, we advise concluding all field placement activities by April 10th. Under the current social distancing and stay at home orders, this should be done remotely.

In addition to the above concerns about course work and field instruction there have been student inquiries about the use of Pass/Fail instead of the usual A, B, C grading rubric this semester. College administrators and faculty are sensitive to this concern and have shared information with UIC administrators where a decision of this nature is made. You will be advised by JaneMail as well as the JACSW and UIC websites, if and when a decision is made to adopt pass/fail or credit/non credit grade structure. Similarly, decisions about tuition and fees are not made at the College level and are based on many different factors.

We welcome student input and concerns in this rapidly changing situation and will be as inclusive, transparent and responsive as possible in this rapidly changing environment. We will continue to confer with leaders of the Jane Addams Student Government (JASG), send you timely information via JaneMail, and post information on the JACSW website. We are also exploring ways to have an open forum, town hall meeting, or office hours remotely.

To facilitate the dissemination of information the College has created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). On this page, which will be updated regularly, you will find information and resources to address many of your concerns and questions. The page also includes a Google doc form where you can ask additional questions that are not currently addressed in the FAQs. Please check the FAQ page regularly. If you have additional questions or suggestions that are not addressed in the FAQs you may email them to Associate Dean Faith Bonecutter or to Barbara Coats, Director of Field Instruction.

Please take good care of yourselves to stay healthy. Be sure to follow the CDC’s Guidelines to Protect yourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sincerely,

Creasie Finney Hairston, PhD
Dean

Faith Johnson Bonecutter, MSW, LCSW
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Services

Christopher Mitchell, PhD, LCSW
Director of Academic Program Development and Assessment

Chang-ming Hsieh, PhD
Director of the PhD Program in Social Work

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