The decision to teach a community-engaged course or offer a community-engaged experience is one that individual faculty members and staff will make; IU has not issued guidelines specific to community-engaged courses. The Office of Academic Affairs at IU South Bend, however, requests that faculty members adopt the following guidelines if they plan to teach a community-engaged course in fall 2020.
Guidelines for Community Engagement during COVID
1. Connect with Your Community Partners: Reach out to community partners to determine if an in-person community project is feasible and would meet the needs of all parties. Faculty members and staff will need to be flexible; the community partner might not be able to offer the experience it typically does for students.
2. Follow IU’s Return-to-Campus Guide: If you and your community partner decide to embark on an in-person community experience, students should follow the health and safety measures in IU's Return-to-Campus Guide at their community site. You should also review IU South Bend's Safety Guidelines. Key guidelines include:
- Stay at least 6 feet apart from others
- Avoid large gatherings of people (greater than 10 people) when feasible
- Wear face coverings in any common indoor spaces and outdoor spaces where keeping 6 feet apart from others is difficult
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If water is not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Monitor one’s health on a regular basis and take reasonable precautions to minimize exposure to COVID-19 infection, including avoiding contact with people who are sick
- Stay home while sick and avoid close contact with others
To stay up-to-date on IU South Bend’s response to the pandemic, see https://fall2020.iu.edu/south-bend/index.html
3. Complete the Community Partner COVID Checklist: If students will be at a community site, their IU South Bend supervisor and community partner need to complete the Community Partner COVID Checklist. Copies of the completed checklist should be sent to all parties. If staff and clients at the community site are not following IU's guidelines, students should not complete in-person service hours at the community site.
4. Plan for a Change: Plan for the possibility that IU or a community partner will suspend in-person projects during the semester. Have another activity you could transition to quickly, prepare students for the possibility of community-engaged activities being suspended, and assure students that you will find alternative ways to fulfill their service hour requirements.
5. When an in-Person Experience is Not Feasible. If an in-person community activity is not feasible, there are other community-engaged projects your students could undertake. See “Transitioning Students SLCE Commitments to Virtual Opportunities” on Indiana Campus Compact’s website. “Community Engagement in Online Courses”, a webinar organized by IU South Bend, can be found at the top of this webpage and highlights virtual community-engaged experiences for students as well.
IUPUI has also posted some ideas for learning activities that can be used if in-person community engagement is suspended. See: https://csl.iupui.edu/resources-support/covid-19-resources/faculty-staff-resources/index.html
Keep in mind that even if you pursue an in-person community activity for your class, there may be some students who cannot participate due to health conditions or other reasons. Such students will need an alternative to the in-person community experience.