I have agencies asking students to begin their practicum early. We currently only provide practicum in the fall and summer. I am wondering what other universities' policies are on this... Do you allow students to begin early or do you wait until the 1st day of the course for liability insurance purposes?
We do not allow students to begin early. Both for liability, as our students are covered under our university's insurance which stipulates their activities are related to a course, but also from the pedagogical perspective. They don't complete a learning contract until the semester begins, and we also want their experiences to be accompanied by reflection and direction form their seminar courses. We will allow them to complete orientations ahead of time if the agency would like that, and allow the students to count those hours towards the placement, but we do let the agencies know it must be training only as they are not yet covered by insurance.
Thank you Lindsey! This is what we have been doing, so we will continue.
We don't allow students to start early. But if the agency is willing to have the student as a volunteer, accepting the liability coverage for an agency volunteer - we allow students to engage as non-intern volunteers. Their hours only begin on the first day of the academic term, which is when their liability protection becomes in-force. We found this to be a good compromise, so that students don't miss out on agency events, trainings and orientation that occurs prior to the academic term beginning. We ask agencies to acknowledge this via an email that outlines the agency is willing to accept the student as volunteer and covered as such under their insurance until the student starts as an intern. Not all agencies have volunteers, so this only applies to those who do. Students cannot begin early if the agency has no volunteer program.
Hope this is helpful.
We only allow students to complete agency orientations and trainings (anything necessary for onboarding) prior to the start of the semester. Those hours count towards their required field hours.
Thank you all for the helpful feedback!
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