Under the growing coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the U.S. since March, the University of Cincinnati has put in place new guidelines for summer internships in hopes of discouraging face-to-face work experiences.
Under these new regulations, first laid out in an April 15 email to students from Vice Provost Gisela Escoe, the university will no longer be giving academic credit to students who participate in face-to-face work experiences.
“No face-to-face work experiences are allowed at this time and UC will not provide any support for face-to-face experiences,” said Escoe in her email. “We will monitor the situation closely and communicate with you if this situation changes based on evolving state regulations and [Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] guidelines.”
Instead, students who have accepted summer internship or co-op positions are encouraged to contact their employers about the possibility of working remotely.
“Remote work is completely acceptable and encouraged,” she said. “The university will also strongly encourage employers to consider remote work options for students and will offer to serve as a resource for employers who wish to develop remote work opportunities.”
For those students who are unable to work remotely, the university is offering the Experiential Exploration Program (EEP) as an alternative means for students to receive credit for their mandatory co-op requirements.
The program boasts a variety of online learning and “project-base work opportunities” and is being offered at no charge to students.
To enroll in an EEP for summer 2020, students must first complete an application and then send it to their co-op faculty adviser. Students who chose to participate in an EEP and do not receive a full-time wage will not be required to pay the co-op fee.
When Director of the Ohio Department of Health Dr. Amy Acton announced the state’s stay-at-home order last month, all businesses thought to be nonessential were forced to close in effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Many states have followed suit and as a result the U.S. Department of Labor has recently reported a record insured unemployment rate of 8.2%. During the week of April 11, the department received 157,218 new unemployment claims from Ohio alone and 226,191 the week before that.
With the pandemic exerting so much pressure on the economy, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is looking toward May 1 — the end of the stay-at-home order — as the target date to begin slowly reopening the state’s non-essential businesses.
“We cannot look at May 1 as a date that everything will be back to normal. We want to make #Ohio's comeback strong, but we also want to make #Ohio's comeback safe,” DeWine tweeted recently.
As such, the university is also looking toward the possibility of allowing students to return to face-to-face work experiences should conditions allow it.
“If at some point in the summer, we determine based on state regulations and CDC guidelines that it is safe for students to physically return to work, you may choose to transition from remote work to face-to-face work for the duration of summer semester,” Escoe said.
“We will monitor the situation closely and communicate with you if this situation changes based on evolving state regulations and CDC guidelines,” she added.