Service Learning COVID-19 Guidelines

8/20/2020 – Service Learning Update – SOM Service Learning Re-opening

Clinical Service Learning (diagnose and treat clinics, screen and refer clinics, health fairs, testing activities and vaccinations):  The following would need to be in place to allow students to return to extra-curricular clinical service learning activities:

  • Triage procedures that consider common COVID 19 symptoms. Such patients would be encouraged to seek care at alternative sites.
  • Clear protocols for sanitization, social distancing, and glove wearing in keeping with clinical practice standards for non-COVID patients.
  • UWSOM students, faculty and staff are required to wear goggles or face shields in addition to medically appropriate masks for in person clinical service learning settings in which there is a risk that 6 feet of social distancing cannot be achieved.  Notably glasses and masks with built in face shields are not considered adequate for this purpose. Personal protective equipment availability would need to be adequate for each site and clinical project.
  • We do not feel that N95 masks or full gowns are indicated given a plan for a robust triage process.
  • Student/preceptor screening and self-attestation. All volunteers should be screened for symptoms of COVID 19 (or other respiratory transmissible diseases) and refrain from participation if they are symptomatic or recently had a high risk exposure.
  • Agreements with community partners (clinical and non-clinical) about the above expectations and any additional community or project specific considerations.

Non-Clinical Service Learning (health education, mentoring, advocacy):  Return to non-clinical service learning activities will follow the protocols laid out by local/state government.  Such policies are more nuanced and consider local COVID 19 infection rates and other public health considerations.  As such the determination about the readiness for students to return to these types of activities will be determined by the regional Service Learning Champion and regional dean with dialogue and support from the UWSOM service learning leadership team.  The following steps are recommended:

  • Adaptation of projects to meet local stipulations around number of people allowed to be gathered (considering indoor/outdoor venues), and social distancing.
  • Given the non-clinical nature of these events the service learning leadership team feels use of cloth masks are sufficient for protection of clients from our students (
  • Where UWSOM participants are in contact with the public and cannot maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing, goggles or face shields in addition to masks are required.

Non-UW Generated Community Service (Ex: Volunteering with the RedCross or local shelter in a lay person’s capacity):  Based on LCME consideration of both school generated service learning and community generated service opportunities being equivalent, our Service Learning Champions, and SLAC student representatives have connected students with non-UW generated community service activities with regularity.  Such opportunities can continue to be advertised locally as long as they again follow local guidelines for contact precautions and infection control, and students are not being asked to participate because of their unique preparation as medical students.