Service-Learning and COVID-19

UCA COVID-19 Service Policies for 2020-2021

The UCA Division of Outreach & Community Engagement provides the following guidelines for all university faculty, staff, and students while the university continues to make changes to operations to meet the health and safety needs of our campus and community during the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020-2021 academic year. Additional information about the university’s pandemic response is available at https://uca.edu/coronavirus/. (Policy updated September 9th, 2020)

Service-Learning Classes

  • Whenever possible, faculty will plan their service-learning projects to be indirect, research-based, or advocacy-based service projects rather than direct service, or to be direct service projects that are designed to be contactless, remote, and/or virtual
  • Faculty will communicate with community partners in advance about how a transition to online instruction would impact the service-learning project, if applicable

Group Service Projects

  • Registered Student Organizations will not engage in off-campus service projects, whether in enclosed spaces or outdoors, or provide group transportation to off-campus service sites
  • UCA Outreach will provide support to assist student groups in creating group service projects that take place on campus and follow all campus protocol related to face coverings, social distancing, and room capacity; we will also assist student groups in developing indirect, contactless, or remote service opportunities for their members

Individual Student Service

  • UCA Outreach will continue to share information with students about how to engage in volunteer service remotely
  • UCA Outreach will support community partners sharing volunteer opportunities for individual students, both in-person and remote/virtual; UCA Outreach will use the Service-Learning Community Partner Letter of Agreement to communicate the expectation of COVID-19 safety protocols for volunteers
  • Individual student volunteers will observe all campus protocols related to face coverings and social distancing when serving in the community
  • Students who are at risk of complications of COVID-19 are advised to avoid off-campus, in-person service opportunities and seek remote/virtual service opportunities instead
  • Students will review Student Volunteer Safety Guidelines for COVID-19 and complete the Volunteer Waiver and Release prior to conducting in-person service.

Recommendations for Faculty

We recommend that faculty plan Fall 2020 service-learning projects to be indirect, research-based, or advocacy-based service projects rather than direct service, or to be direct service projects that are designed to be contactless, remote, and/or virtual.

  • Examples of indirect, research-based, or advocacy-based service-learning include
    • Advocacy within the university community, including working with students on civic engagement projects or projects that raise awareness or take action on issues of unequal access or outcomes in higher education
    • Research, assessment, or evaluation in collaboration with a partner organization
    • Deliverables created for a partner organization, such as digital media or social media content, print materials, logos, or handbooks
    • Creating virtual educational materials such as webinars or streaming a presentation or performance
  • Examples of direct service offered in a virtual or contactless setting include
    • Tutoring or mentoring through video conferencing platforms
    • Delivering meals or conducting well checks over the phone
    • Hosting or assisting with a virtual event for a partner organization
    • Allowing students to locate and select their own virtual service opportunities (resources available at uca.edu/volunteer).

The 2020-2021 academic year presents an opportunity to rethink how we are using service-learning and to adapt our service-learning projects to address current, pressing issues in society. Additional resources for faculty to reflect on COVID-19 and its impact on communities, mutual support within communities, civic engagement, racial justice and equity, and critical service-learning can be found below.

Additional Resources for Faculty


Recommendations for Nonprofit Community Partners

We understand that changes to the university’s instructional delivery method and policy for student community engagement impacts you, and we apologize for any inconveniences caused by changes to instructional delivery. Nonprofit community partners are asked to consider ways to continue to engage with our students in remote or contactless service, and we expect all nonprofit community partners to have COVID-19 related safety policies and procedures in place for volunteers.
  • Develop COVD-19 related safety policies and procedures for volunteers.
  • Continue to list your service experiences on GivePulse, with an emphasis on remote or contactless opportunities. Please note that student groups are not permitted to conduct off-campus group service at this time.
  • Virtual service opportunities include ways that volunteers can support your organization from home or online, such as
    • Writing cards, sending letters, or doing craft projects (such as making toys for shelter animals, knitting hats and scarves for homeless individuals, or making blankets for seniors)
    • Becoming social media ambassadors, hosting online fundraisers or donation drives, or raising awareness of your organization and related social issues through advocacy
    • Offering a skilled service that they can do remotely, such as web development, graphic design, writing/editing, translation, or sewing
    • Offering online delivery of services such as financial coaching, tutoring and mentoring, enrichment activities or classes, or theater or musical performances
    • Recording theater or musical performances, audiobooks, or how-to videos
  • Consider asking individuals to pledge to volunteer at a future event or make a financial contribution to a specific need your organization has related to COVID-19 or disruptions to operations
  • Recognize your great volunteers on social media, or take some time to share stories of past service events to keep your volunteers engaged if they are unable to serve!

Additional Resources for Nonprofits


Contact Us

As always, please feel free to contact Dr. Lesley Graybeal, Director of Service-Learning and Volunteerism, at lgraybeal@uca.edu, for assistance and support as you make adjustments to your service-learning courses and service opportunities in the coming months. Thank you!