The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning

Updated 8/26/20

With the start the academic year, we want to provide some updates and items for consideration around community-university partnerships that may be helpful as you think about your organization’s engagement with U-M students, faculty and staff. The Community Engagement team at the Ginsberg Center continues to be available to brainstorm ideas, problem solve and connect you with U-M stakeholders interested in engaging during this time. Please, be in touch to schedule a time to explore more - community-engagement@umich.edu.

U-M Schedule

Classes begin August 31st and will include a variety of in-person, hybrid and remote formats. Students also will have the option to complete all their courses on-line. Following Thanksgiving break (begins November 20) all courses will be conducted on-line through finals, which end December 18th. 

The second semester will begin January 19th and will conclude with the last day of finals on April 29th. There will be no spring break this year. You can learn more about the upcoming academic year on U-M’s Campus Maize and Blueprint website.

U-M Guidance on Off-Campus Engagement

The Office of the Provost has issued guidelines for the campus related to off-campus engagement for the fall. While general guidance is that off-campus, university-related activity is permissible under certain conditions, we anticipate that each school, college and unit will also have their own set of guidelines for students related to in-person engagement. Furthermore, in addition to the Provost guidelines, recognized student organizations will be expected to follow the Center for Campus Involvement’s safety measures.  If you are uncertain about the expectations related to a course, program or student organization with whom you are working, you can connect with us to learn more and receive additional support.   

U-M Protocols for Working with Minors - Virtual Engagement

If U-M stakeholders will be engaging with minors in a virtual environment, the university’s Children on Campus office has issued specific requirements for virtual programs involving youth. We encourage you to ask your U-M partner if they are adhering to this policy and have registered their program with the Children on Campus office. 

In Person Engagement Considerations

We know that for some partners there may be engagement opportunities that can only be done in person. According to U-M guidelines, students are still able to be in community settings, with some important parameters.  Given the current reality of COVID-19, students need to attend to applicable sets of regulations, policies and protocols set by (1)state and local governments, (2)the community agency, (3)the U-M Provost and (4)U-M departments or units. Along with the guidance provided by national and local health organizations like the CDC and Washtenaw County Health Department, there are some U-M student specific considerations to keep in mind.

  • The University is working closely with students to establish a Culture of Care around the collective responsibility of keeping the campus and larger community safe. Students are being asked to commit to a set of practices as they engage both on and off campus. Asking students about how they are carrying out these practices may be a good starting point to establish if they’d be a good fit for in-person engagement at your organization. 

  • If you have in-person placements, it will be important to discuss with students your expectations for their on-site role and how they should handle any challenges. Some questions for you to consider might include: 

    • What are the policies for your organization around masks and social distancing?

    • If students are not following public health guidance (such as attending large events, not social distancing, etc.), should they come to your site?  

    • What should they do if they test positive for COVID-19? 

    • Will you provide personal protection equipment or will they be required to bring it? 

    • Will they be able to switch to a virtual placement if public health considerations change? 

    • When will their placement end (before Thanksgiving or at the end of the semester)? 

    • What do they do if a client/consumer isn’t following health/safety precautions? 

Remote Engagement Considerations

We recognize that community organizations may be engaging with students remotely. Over the spring/summer, we have gathered some helpful questions/tips that might be useful as you think about remote engagement:

  • In a virtual setting, establishing clear expectations is more important than ever. Here are some questions to help guide your conversation:

    • How will you communicate (phone, email, Zoom)? 

    • How often do you need to check-in? 

    • Who is supervising the student (organizational staff, U-M faculty/staff)? 

    • How will problems be resolved? 

    • What is the timeline for engagement (will students wrap-up at Thanksgiving or go through the end of the semester)? 

    • We also have some partnership resources that can be helpful to set-up these foundational conversations. 

  • Students may be living and working in another time zone. We have heard stories of students waking up at 3am to make a meeting or class, so it’s important to consider time differences if students are out of state or out of the country. 

  • When working remotely, students and partners may not feel as connected as they would during in-person service. It is important to build in some intentional time for relationship building and getting to know the agency/organization. Here are some ideas to build those connections:

    • Invite students to attend a staff meeting to get to know others at your organization.

    • Provide an opportunity for mini-informational interviews with others at your organization. 

    • Build in time for casual conversation into supervision.

    • Provide opportunities for students to meet each other if you have multiple students serving at your organization.