March 12, 2020 at 6:41 p.m.

Latest Updates and Additional Resources from CSSW

Dear CSSW Community,

I am writing to assure you that senior administrators at the School of Social Work continue to work around the clock to consider the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 on our students, faculty, and staff, as well as the impact on the communities we serve.

We are grateful that so many students joined our virtual Community Dialogue yesterday, sharing their views and concerns about a wide range of issues raised by COVID-19 and its consequences. Thank you for your candor and your palpable commitment to our social work values. We look forward to continuing these Community Dialogues for the remainder of the semester, and hope even more of you will join future sessions. In that same vein, I would like to thank those who have reached out with supportive and constructive emails over the past weeks – they mean a great deal.

One of the most painful parts of yesterday’s discussion came from hearing from our students about the unconscionable acts of anti-Asian discrimination that they, their friends, and family members have endured. We condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms, and want to work together to develop pro-active programming and education around anti-Asian racism. We look forward to continued discussions on this point, led by Dean Karma Lowe in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In addition, Dean Lowe and her colleagues are assembling a set of resources on preventing anti-Asian discrimination and stigma, which she will share shortly. As noted in previous messages, we are here to support you. If you have experienced or witnessed incidents of bias, I urge you to reach out to Dean Lowe at At times like these, it is important to remember that CSSW is a community of mutual support.

As you know, Dean Kathryne Leak in the Office of Practicum Learning reached out yesterday to say that we are implementing a mandatory, temporary suspension of field placement activities for all our students, both residential and online, effective today, March 12, through Monday, March 23. In consulting with our counterparts at other schools of social work in New York and around the nation, we are discovering that many of these schools have converted or soon will convert to online classes, and some have also suspended practicum placements for the time being. As Dean Leak stated, we are committed to working with each and every student to ensure that your practicum hour requirements are met (particularly if you plan to graduate this May), and can deploy alternative activities and remote assignments (perhaps in concert with your practicum site), as needed and as appropriate. Dean Leak will continue to send further clarifications and updates.

You heard from President Bollinger earlier today that for the safety of the Columbia University community, classes for the remainder of the semester will be conducted online. President Bollinger’s message also emphasized that, although a policy is now in place to strongly discourage non-essential events of more than 25 people on all Columbia campuses, the University itself remains open and its ample resources are available to us.

In closing, I continue to be struck by the perseverance, fortitude, and kindness so many of you have shown as our community works out the best way to move forward. I am especially grateful to the students and faculty who have successfully transitioned into the online environment for their classes, with the support of our dedicated staff. This required careful planning and enormous effort, and demonstrates what we can accomplish together.

In these times of uncertainty, we are fortunate to be at Columbia, because of this community of colleagues with shared social justice values, as well as the University’s many leading experts on infectious disease. It’s a powerful combination. Appended below are links to further resources that you may find helpful in staying informed in the days ahead, including a new coronavirus hotline offered by Columbia Health.

With best regards,




Columbia School of Social Work

Columbia Events about the Coronavirus

Other Expert Resources