Temporary Outside of Class Experiential Activities Policy
Suffolk University’s Mission and Strategic Vision highlights the fundamental importance that experiential learning (EL) brings to all students. Many courses normally include experiential learning activities that occur outside the classroom in off-campus settings. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the vast majority of EL activities that occur outside the classroom (whether that classroom is on-campus or online) will be offered and performed in a virtual environment. Remote EL activities in the 2020-2021 academic year will give students many opportunities to learn how to work, practice, and learn in a virtual environment.
Experiential Learning Opportunities in Most Credit-bearing Courses
Instructors should develop alternative EL activities that allow students to experience the benefits of EL while they continue work for credit and fulfill degree requirements, whether a course takes place on-campus or online. Experiential learning is a process, a way to learn, that does not depend on the availability of certain public or private settings in which students learn and have experiences.
Faculty should not create assignments (even optional ones) that ask students to visit physical settings in the community (e.g., field trips, work experiences, service settings, community learning partnerships) even in instances where the settings are open and available to students during the pandemic.
Unusual Situations in Credit-bearing Courses
There are a small number of identified courses where direct face-to-face experiences are necessary to be consistent with program accreditation or professional licensure requirements. In those cases, the department or program will continue to offer these courses if feasible, and a student may choose to engage in face-to-face experiences.
In this situation:
- Partner sites must present documentation to the student and to Suffolk University that it meets federal, state, and city guidelines for Covid-19 procedures. The documentation outlining Covid-19 safety protocols, proper use of personal protective equipment, and social distancing may be presented on the partner site’s website or in the form of specific documentation provided directly to the student and Suffolk University faculty member, department chair or program director who oversees the face-to-face experience for the students. The program director or department chair will determine if the documentation covers the required aforementioned elements.
- Partner sites must ensure that students will not knowingly have contact with a COVID-19-positive client or patient and will agree to follow best practices to reduce transmission including but not limited to social distancing and PPE.
The decision to engage or not to engage in a face-to-face academic experience will always rest with the student. The student may choose not to engage in these experiences without penalty from the faculty or department. However, the student may have to adjust or delay their timeline to graduation in order to meet this requirement in the event that the relevant accreditation or licensing bodies will not accept a virtual alternative to the face-to-face experience.
All students who do participate in a setting where they will engage in face-to-face academic experiences must sign a Covid-19 Waiver and Release of Liability form indicating knowledge of and accepting risk for their choice to work in a face-to-face setting. The waiver will be provided to the student by the program director or department chair. The student is expected to carefully read and, if agree, to return a signed copy of the waiver to the program director or department chair for the academic record.
Experiential Learning Opportunities Not for Credit (Volunteer or Paid Opportunities)
Students may choose on their own to volunteer or be employed in community or professional development opportunities. Students who do so need to appreciate the inherent risk in such activities related to Covid-19. All students are encouraged to carefully review the site’s procedures and policy for Covid-19, ensure that PPE is available, and proper social distancing is maintained. They should monitor the site and guidelines as they may change during the course of the academic year.