COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for New Students

This page will provide frequently asked questions and answers to incoming students regarding Fall 2020 curriculum, field placement and student services.

updated 07/14/2020

The video below is a recording of a webinar held on 7/8/20 regarding what to expect for fall 2020 (watch time 43:40).

On this page:


What method(s) of instruction is the School of Social Work planning for in the Fall 2020 semester?

Based on guidance from New York State, local public health officials, and the University at Buffalo, the School of Social Work is now preparing to deliver the vast majority of courses at a distance (this does not include field placements – see field placements information below). We may have a very small number of seated courses delivered on the UB campuses, and more information will follow on this possible exception. Most students should prepare for course delivery at a distance.

Is distant delivery the same as online?

At first glance, the terms distant delivery and online delivery may look the same, but in this instance that is not the case. It is true that students will need specific technology (computer, Wi-Fi, etc.) to participate in courses. However, we have been working to provide faculty best practice guidance around distant delivery course modification specifically for teaching students who wanted and expected to be in a seated classroom.

I was planning to be on-campus in a classroom, what will distant delivery be like?

In the fall semester, seated classes generally meet once a week for ~3 hours each session. Distant delivery classes will also meet once a week for a live (synchronous) classroom period via Zoom, or other web meeting platform. During these classes, faculty will provide live lecture/discussion/activities that would parallel what might have occurred in the seated classroom. Students will experience live interaction with faculty and peers during classroom time.

How long will courses be delivered at a distance?

The decision to deliver courses at a distance is in effect for the Fall 2020 semester. While we hope to be fully back on campus by the Spring 2021 semester, it is too soon to know how future semesters will be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We will update students regarding decisions for curriculum delivery in Spring 2021 and beyond as soon as possible.

Can I come physically onto campus to access other services or classrooms?

The University is taking steps to allow students, staff and faculty back onto the campus in significantly lowered numbers. Anyone coming onto the campus must wear a mask, and must adhere to 6-feet social distancing as recommended by public health officials. As the University provides us more information we will pass it along.

How do I communicate with faculty teaching my courses?

Regardless of type of course delivery, faculty will provide students a syllabus, along with other information regarding best ways to contact them in and outside of office hours. 

What technology will I need to participate in classes at a distance?

All UB students whether in our online or seated degree programs are required to have access to basic technology and resources. To ensure an optimal learning experience, please confirm that your computer and related equipment meet the minimum technology requirements as indicated on the Technology Requirements webpage.

Field Placement

If my classes will be delivered a distance, what about my field placement?

It’s the nature of social work, and our professional social work training, that field must be in-person. However, wherever necessary (due to student or placement agency circumstances) distance learning formats will be utilized as alternatives.

If classes are being delivered at a distance, do I still have to be in the Western NY area?

Students are expected to reside in the region first indicated on their application for admission, and subsequently on their field placement application. Any student originally planning to live in, or relocate to Western New York should move forward with those plans. While classes may be delivered at a distance for the Fall 2020 semester, a decision has not been made about Spring 2021. Further, as field placements span a two-semester period, commitments are being made to field placement agencies through the end of the Spring 2021 semester. 

What if my field placement agency has to close or limit services during my field placement?

UBSSW has developed a plan to address temporary disruption to students’ field placements.  

First, students can follow the Protocol to Request an Individual Work Plan to request to be released from an in-person field placement should they feel unsafe. Students can consult with UBSSW Student Services to consider postponement of the field course.

If student interns are advised by their agency, supervisor, and/or government to not attend their field placement, or if safety concerns warrant a temporary disruption in field placement, students should immediately consult with both their Faculty Liaison and their Field Supervisor(s) to develop a remote learning plan. 

Do I still have to complete the full 420-hour foundation field placement hours in 20/21?

This past spring, CSWE temporarily approved a reduction to 85% of the number of field hours necessary to complete a foundation field placement. This reduction was extended through May 31, 2021. We have contacted the NYS Department of Education to inquire whether or not the NYS Office of the Professions will accept the CSWE reduction. While we anticipate they will accept the reduction, we are still waiting on official confirmation. The Field Education Team will provide updates to students via email, and will continue to regularly schedule question and answer forums to respond to student questions and concerns.

Will reduced field placement hours impact my eligibility for state licensure in NY State?

No changes will be made to field placement hour requirements until we have approval from NY State to do so.  Any changes made later – in compliance with NYS – will allow students to pursue licensure with confidence.

Student Services

What student support services are available from the School of Social Work?

The SSW student services staff are available to guide and advise students as it relates to navigating and succeeding within the school’s academic programs. We offer a variety of services to students in the areas of academic support, career and professional development, registration assistance, and personal support. If you have not already, you will receive email information from our student services team about our new student orientation process.

Will my tuition and fees be adjusted?

Most current information about adjusted tuition and fees can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) COVID-19 and Student Accounts website.

How do I get my text books?

Course textbooks can be purchased online through the University at Buffalo Bookstore website Find My Course Materials section. 

What if I want to use campus counseling services?

There are many sources of support here on campus, including counseling services and crisis resources. Visit UB’s student life webpage on Health/Mental Wellbeing or contact UB Counseling Services at 716-645-2720 to schedule a same-day appointment.

What if I become ill with COVID 19?

If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you may have it, please stay home. Do not attend in-person classes or field placements if you are not well. If you will be missing classes and/or field placement, please e-mail your instructor or field educator to inform them of your absence.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, please call your health care provider or UB Student Health Services.

What ways can I stay connected with my faculty, and fellow students?

The University at Buffalo has made available a variety of online resources to help students stay connected with their faculty and peers. Online meeting tools such as WebEx and Zoom are available for individual or group meetings. For more information about what online resources are available to students, please see the Student Technology Guide.

Additional ways to stay connected include joining the UB School of Social Work: MSW Students Facebook group, and attending the following student group meetings/events:

  • Macro Social Work
  • Global Interest
  • Rho Kappa