COVID-19 and Social Work Education

Resources Addressing Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The spread of COVID-19 around the country and globe continues to present significant challenges for social work education. Each social work student, teacher, and program is unique, and so have been their responses to this pandemic.

CSWE offers the following resources and guidance to help address these challenges. From syllabi and slide decks to accreditation updates and field guidance, this page is meant to be a comprehensive resource for social work education to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The page will be updated as new information becomes available. 

Join the conversations at CSWE's Spark community to talk with other educators, students, and affiliated professionals about COVID-19 response and a host of other social work topics.


The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to have tremendous impacts on the health and social well-being of populations around the world. Social workers are acting to ameliorate unprecedented disruption across health, social, and economic systems. To support this effort social work educators can infuse public health social work (PHSW) approaches into social work curricula at all levels and prepare students to dismantle systemic racism and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination. PHSW is characterized by efforts to investigate social factors as root causes of health inequities, use of epidemiologically informed clinical and community-level preventive interventions, and a shared commitment to advocacy and activism to bring about the structural changes necessary to achieve health equity.

The following free resources provide social work educators with tools to infuse PHSW principles into existing or new curricula while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and related consequences.

Developed as part of the Advancing Leadership in Public Health Social Work Education project at Boston University, and funded by a cooperative agreement from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (grant no. G05HP31425), these materials have been modified by leadership in the PHSW Section of the American Public Health Association and adapted to incorporate COVID-19 specific examples.

If you have questions or would like more information, please reach out to

  • Julie Cederbaum, PhD, MSW, MPH, associate professor at the University of Southern California;
  • Abby Ross, PhD, MSW, MPH, assistant professor at Fordham University,
  • Betty J. Ruth, MSW, MPH, clinical professor and Boston University MSW/MPH program director;
  • Jennifer Zelnick, ScD, MSW, associate professor at Touro College; or
  • Lisa de Saxe Zerden, PhD, MSW, associate dean at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
The following slide decks on theoretical frameworks, practice models, syllabi, case studies, and other activity prompts can assist educators at all levels— baccalaureate, master’s, and doctorate—with meaningful, content-specific ways to highlight PHSW skills to address the complexities our world faces in light of COVID-19. These are available in the CSWE Spark community for COVID-19.

Lessons and Presentations

Course Syllabi


Following are tools for individual and program members to use in the classroom or otherwise to demonstrate the value of social work education and our response to our communities during the pandemic.

Examples of Modified Field Placements 

The resulting data from a CSWE survey showcased new ideas for modifying field placements, including potential alternative activities, ways to incorporate the COVID-19 pandemic into coursework, and general information on how institutions and programs are currently modifying their operations. Find those examples at this link.

Curricular Resources Mapped to CSWE Competencies

Shared on CSWE Spark by Dr. Laura Nissen, this curated list of curriclar topics and resources will be steadily updated with added material to help social work students and faculty stay informed and inspired during these challenging and uncertain times when it may be difficult to focus on education. Topics include teaching and learning to practice on digital platforms, areas of specialized practice, and much more.  

Indiana University Presents Teleheath Basics for Social Workers

Indiana University School of Social Work presents a free introductory course called "Telebehavioral Practice Basics for Social Work Educators and Clinicians Responding to COVID-19." It is available online and provides strategies for engaging with clients virutally. 


In the following paragraphs are information and guidance on maintaining or earning accreditation during the coronavirus pandemic. These guidelines were updated in June 2020. For full information and helpful resources, visit CSWE’s Accreditation Web page.

  • Student safety. Accreditation Standard (AS) 2.2.7 requires that field education programs specify policies for supporting student safety in field. Programs are encouraged to safeguard student safety during the COVID-19 pandemic to the greatest extent possible, including suspending or delaying field education placements when necessary for student safety.
  • Reduction in field hours. Under AS 2.2.5, field education programs provide a minimum of 400 hours of field education for baccalaureate programs and a minimum of 900 hours for master’s programs. Due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, students who have completed 85% of the required placement hours (i.e., equivalent to 340 hours for baccalaureate programs and 765 hours for master’s programs) to a satisfactory level may, at program discretion, be evaluated as having met the field placement requirement. This reduction in field hours may be applied to field placement courses that are fully or partially completed by May 31, 2021. Field placement courses that are partially completed by May 31, 2021, may continue to apply the 15% reduction in hours until the specific field course is completed, even if the completion date is after May 31, 2021. New field placement courses that begin after May 31, 2021, will return to the full hours requirement. Remote field activity, as well as field supervision and field seminar hours, may be counted toward the accrual of field hours.
  • Remote field activity. Although AS 2.2.4 requires field education through “in-person contact,” the Commission on Accreditation will broaden its interpretation to include remote-based field activity. Remote field activity can include engagement such as field-related assignments, trainings, and virtual meetings. Client-related virtual meetings should be in accordance with field site policies for secure communications.
  • Candidacy or reaffirmation materials that are due in spring or summer 2020. Extensions will be granted for programs whose submission of materials has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If your program needs an extension, please request an extension by e-mail to [email protected] and copy your accreditation specialist. Please include a brief description of the program’s situation. The accreditation specialist will respond with the approved extension date.
  • Program site visits. Reaffirmation and candidacy site visits will be conducted through virtual meetings instead of on-site meetings through December 31, 2020. The virtual meeting directive may be extended as the COVID-19 situation warrants.
  • Assessment. Programs are encouraged to continue with their assessment plans to the extent possible. The Commission on Accreditation recognizes that assessment outcomes will probably be affected by disruptions to class instruction and field. Programs that are in the process of reporting assessment outcomes as part of their candidacy or reaffirmation self-studies are encouraged to provide context relative to the impact of COVID-19. Programs may also address the impact of COVID-19 in implications for program renewal and program changes explicit curriculum assessment and implicit curriculum assessment.


Webinar: Trauma-Informed Social Work Practice

This webinar on Trauma-Informed Social Work Practice will be rescheduled for September 2020. Find scheduling updates on the Education Resources page and in CSWE's monthly Compass e-mail newsletter.

2020 Spring IPEC Institute and Summer Program

The May 19‒21, 2020, IPEC Faculty Development Institute in Washington, DC, and the June 16‒18, 2020, Interprofessional Leadership Development Program in Atlanta, GA, have been postponed until later this year. Read the full announcement here.