Covid-19 Internship & Co-op Guidance for Faculty

Internships provide valuable, practical, industry/degree-related experience to students. While their significance is undeniable, students’ health and safety are of utmost importance. The term “internship” is used broadly to encompass the range of student experiences and opportunities outside of the classroom, including internships, co-ops, field experiences, whether for academic credit or not.

The following guidance is intended to help identify how internships in each college/department will be managed during the health crisis and while extensive social-distancing requirements remain in effect. The protocols are based on the USA Reopening Plan.  Here is the link to the full Career Services Internships & Cooperative Education Guidance for Covid-19.

▼   Are in-person internship and co-op opportunities allowed?

Faculty members are strongly encouraged to allow students to use no contact (virtual) experiences to fulfill degree requirements whenever feasible. Virtual experiences are the most appropriate means for students to participate in an internship while avoiding potential exposure to COVID-19. However, for college/departments with a required internship and without feasible or available no contact (virtual) experience, faculty must follow the guidelines as approved by the USA Reopening Plan Committee.

▼   What are my responsibilities as a faculty member if I choose to require an in-person internship or co-op for my students?

Faculty responsibilities include:

  1. Career Services staff will review the internship description posted in Handshake to ensure that it complies with the USA Reopening Plan guidelines, PPE requirements, and ADPH/CDC guidance. The Career Services internship coordinator supports faculty in gathering additional information needed to make a determination about specific postings/organization protocols before faculty choose to require a specific opportunity. Faculty can email careerservices@southalabama.edu to request assistance.
  2. For colleges/departments requiring an in-person internship NOT posted in Handshake, the faculty advisor must ensure the internship is in compliance with all USA reopening plan guidelines. The Career Services internship coordinator is available to assist faculty in gathering additional information necessary to make this assessment and any changes to the internship to ensure compliance.
  3. Colleges/Departments requiring in-person internship experiences must provide training to students regarding the expectations for compliance with these guidelines while participating in low or direct contact internships and monitor compliance during regular check-ins with students. The Career Services internship coordinator offers assistance with the development and provision of such training. Faculty can email the Career
    Services internship coordinator at careerservices@southalabama.edu for assistance with the process or contact Career Services at 251-460-6188.
  4. Colleges/Departments must require that students, faculty, and/or staff participating in direct contact and low-contact internship experiences comply with the participating site’s COVID-19 Protocols AND the USA Reopening Plan Guidelines.
  5. The faculty advisor/Internship coordinator must inform participants that in addition to any requirements of the internship site, all students who participate in in-person internships will complete a health screening form before attending on-campus classes or other activities, and will be referred to Student Health if the screening indicates issues or concerns. Health screening will be completed through the Jag Healthcheck
    program or by downloading the recommended GuideSafe™ exposure notification app.
  6. All USA students and/or staff participating in direct contact and low contact internships must follow the USA face-mask and social distancing requirements while participating and contact their faculty advisor/internship coordinator or the Career Services director if the
    following requirements are not practiced at the site:
    1. face masks are worn by all individuals in all indoor public areas of buildings and facilities, except when alone in a private office.
    2. face masks are worn in outdoor areas when individuals are within six (6) feet of one another.
    3. individuals are able and expected to maintain six (6) feet of social distance from others
  7. The faculty advisor/internship coordinator must review or amend the internship agreement to include a statement alerting that if any student, faculty, or staff become COVID-19 positive during or after participating in a direct or low contact internship that the internship site may be informed of their status by USA Contact Tracing, Office of Career Services, or Internship Supervisor if the USA Contact Tracing Team determines that the intern has been in close contact with individuals at the intern site.
  8. Internship experiences that might include contact with vulnerable populations (see definition above) must receive an additional evaluation from the faculty advisor/internship coordinator for appropriateness. The Career Services staff is available to assist with the evaluation process. Please email careerservices@southalabama.edu to request assistance.
  9. Students who have been determined by their medical provider as high risk for severe illness if exposed to COVID-19 will be provided reasonable accommodations where possible.
▼   What if I have an internship or co-op agreement with an employer partner that pre-dates COVID-19?
  1. Colleges/Departments must share a copy of their amended internship agreements that include COVID-19 protocols with Career Services. Career Services will maintain a shared drive of internship agreements.
  2. If the required internship is part of an existing or new agreement with an internship site, the faculty advisor/internship coordinator must develop, review or amend the agreement to include:
    1. requirements for mask-wearing (see number 8 above)
    2. requirements that individuals maintain social distancing by remaining six (6) feet apart.
    3. the expectation that indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are not permitted.
    4. frequent handwashing/hand sanitization.
    5. all other applicable USA Reopening Plan Guidelines.
    6. reviewing the host organizations COVID-19 guidelines to ensure that they are in harmony with the USA Reopening Plan Guidelines.
▼   What if a student or faculty member experiences symptoms of COVID-19 while or after participating in internship-related activities or becomes aware that they have been exposed to COVID-19?

If a student or faculty member experiences symptoms of COVID-19 while or after participating in internship-related activities or becomes aware that they have been exposed to COVID- 19, they must:

  1. immediately comply with the protocols established by the internship site.
  2. stay home, indicate this information on Jag Healthcheck. Students must contact Student Health and employees must contact Employee Health and Wellness.
  3. immediately report confirmed cases of COVID-19 to USA’s contact tracing team at ReportCovid@SouthAlabama.edu. Instructions on how to report are contained on USA’s Human Resources website and the student section of the University’s reopening website.
  4. report a probable or confirmed case to their faculty/internship coordinator who will then email the director of Career Services at bwgreen@southalabama.edu
▼   What if a student has recently participated in an internship experience that has tested or is positive for COVID-19?
Any student member who has recently participated in a required internship experience that has tested/is positive for COVID-19 must send an email to their Department Chair/Director AND to the Director of Career Services at bwgreen@southalabama.edu, in addition to immediately reporting the case to USA’s Contact Tracing team at ReportCovid@SouthAlabama.edu following the instructions on the University’s reopening website. Any faculty or staff notified by a student who has tested positive for COVID-19 must also follow these notification procedures.
  1. The Career Services director will consult with the USA Contact Tracing supervisor who will determine if the student was in close contact with individuals at the site and provide information regarding the quarantine period if applicable. This information will be relayed to the department chair, program director, or faculty supervisor.
  2. The internship site supervisor may be notified based upon guidance provided by the USA Contact Tracing supervisor. The Career Services director will consult with the department chair, program director, or faculty supervisor to determine who will notify the internship site supervisor based on the relationship with that site.
  3. The Department Chair/faculty supervisor will pause the internship experience to ensure completion of contact tracing in compliance with the University policy.
  4. The student may not return to the internship site until they receive clearance from the USA Contact Tracing team or Student Health. The student should report their clearance to their faculty supervisor to receive approval for their return to the internship site.
  5. After receiving clearance from USA Contact Tracing and their faculty supervisor, the student should comply with all requirements of the internship site before returning to the site.