Updated Statement on Field Education in the Context of COVID-19 

The CASWE-ACFTS Board of Directors (BOD) acknowledges the continued significant impact of COVID-19 on field education as we enter our third year of a global pandemic. The BOD wishes to re-affirm the critical role played by field education staff, field supervisors and faculty towards maintaining the integrity, rigor, and success of social work education in Canada in preparing competent social work practitioners. We acknowledge the additional stress and strain experienced by field education staff, field education supervisors and faculty in establishing flexible, creative and innovative approaches to maintaining and adapting field placements to support student learning and success.  We also acknowledge that the pandemic has created stress and strain for social work students across the country who continue to do their best to adapt to the unprecedented challenges of these times.

In the continued and ever shifting context of uncertainty in Schools of Social Work in Canada as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Board had previously issued a temporary modification of the number of hours required to complete a social work practicum, stating that student placements could be reduced to no less than 75% of the required hours as per the CASWE-ACFTS Accreditation Standards and at the discretion of member schools. Given the current challenges posed by the Omicron variant resulting in significant rates of illness among social work students, staff, faculty and field instructors and the uncertainty of what may follow, the BOD has elected to further extend the option of reduced hours to August 2022, to be exercised at the discretion of each member school. This decision follows the advice of the CASWE-ACFTS Field Education in the Context of COVID-19 Working Group composed of representatives from the Field Education Committee, Commission on Accreditation, Deans and Directors, the National Indigenous Accreditation Board, and the CASWE-ACFTS staff and Board. Student voices have also been represented in this Working Group through the presence of practicum students completing their placements at CASWE-ACFTS. We are deeply grateful to the members of the group who have lent their time, energy and gifts to help ensure that field education is supported in the best way possible in the extremely trying and constantly shifting conditions created by the pandemic.

We recognize that member schools are dedicated to finding pathways to preserve standards and learning for students while maintaining flexibility in responding to shifting regional public health and institutional COVID-19 policies, and the needs and realities of the agencies, organization and frontline staff who support field education. Where possible, member schools are encouraged to maintain the highest standard of field education hours.

The BOD and the Field Education in the Context of COVID-19 Working Group gratefully acknowledge the commitment and creativity of field instructors, field education staff, students and faculty in working to support the continuation of field education in the face of constant pivoting required by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any questions about this statement may be directed to CASWE-ACFTS Executive Director, Carole Carpot at ed-dg@caswe-acfts.ca

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