Message from Dean Betsy Farmer March 11, 2020

Dear Social Work Students –

   I am assuming that all of you received this notification from Chancellor Gallagher, but I just wanted to make sure. I am certain that this is raising a zillion questions in your minds about implications on a variety of fronts. As you all know, this is emerging in real time, so we are all working to keep everyone safe, informed, and connected. I don’t have answers to everything that you’d want to know. Here is what I do know:

  1.        Spring break is, essentially, being extended by a week – classes will re-start on March 23.
  2.        When classes re-start, they will be taught online/remotely.
  3.        Students who live in university housing (i.e., dorms) are being asked to stay at home – however, if you live in university housing and do not have another place where you can live, we understand that there are exceptions that can be made, so please do not panic if you need to live in a dorm (we expect more information on this to be forthcoming – we will be working with administrators on campus to learn more about how this will work). I am assuming that you also will receive (or, perhaps, already have received) information about how to come to campus to get needed clothes, class materials, etc. from dorms (I have heard this discussed, but do not have details of how this is working)
  4.        The university remains open – this means that the Cathedral, library, etc. are open. Faculty and staff are being encouraged to work remotely, but are also allowed to be on campus.
  5.        Gatherings of 25 or more people are forbidden – therefore events that have been planned for large-ish groups will be cancelled or reconfigured to an online/virtual format – we will be sending out information via email and social media as decisions about individual events are made.

  At this point, we are getting additional clarification from the university and our community partners to determine the best approaches to completing field education for the semester. Please be assured that we will come up with ways for all students to complete the required field hours (there may be both in-person and virtual options for this – we need to work through the possibilities and details before we can communicate this to all of you).

   I’m sure you all have many questions and are wondering about many things. We will be getting you information as quickly as we can – I am copying the BASW, MSW, and PhD program directors here, so that they know what I have told you at this point. It is likely to be early next week before we have many more details for you.  

  At this point, I know it is difficult to get such big news like this and have so many unanswered questions. We are all in the same position and are working with our colleagues across the university and at schools of social work around the country to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to continue providing you with the educational experience and opportunities that you chose Pitt for. These are very unusual times, but one of the things social workers do really well is respond to changing environments and find creative solutions to complex problems – so we are ON it!

  Please take care!