Student Townhall Tuesday FAQ

social work students talking in class

Case Western Reserve University and the Mandel School are working diligently on plans to deliver high-quality education while setting the highest priority for the health and safety of our community. We have been inspired by the amazing commitment and resilience of our students during these incredibly difficult times. To help build community and communication, the Mandel School Student Engagement Team is pleased to feature ongoing forums called Townhall Tuesday. All students are welcome to participate in these ongoing forums. This is your opportunity to share your voice and receive support as we navigate these challenging, uncertain times.

We have created this page to offer information gathered from Townhall Tuesday. We will continually update the page to be inclusive of students’ Frequently Asked Questions and overarching themes from ongoing Townhall Tuesday conversations. Please note there are still details that need to be worked out for the fall semester, but we want you to be informed as we move forward.

We are here to support you and look forward to another great year at the Mandel School. YOU are the future of the social work profession as Change Agents and social work leaders committed to building a more just world.

Financial Aid

As a part of the CARES act the Student Loan interest rates on Federal Direct Loans were temporarily changed to 0% from 3/13/2020-09/31/2020 and payments that were in a repayment status were placed in an administrative forbearance. Current students should remain in an in-school deferment if a student is enrolled at least half time.

For the 2020/2021 Academic year starting in the Summer semester interest rates for Federal Student loans are as follows:

  • 4.3% for Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • 5.3% for Direct PLUS Loans

Read more on the federal student loan website

Public Service Loan Forgiveness- (PSLF)

An overwhelming majority of students from the Mandel School pursue PSLF when they graduate, because of where they work in the nonprofit or public service sector. We don’t have an exact number of how many alumni have received the forgiveness but we will be highlighting those success stories in the future. The PSLF program requires borrowers of Federal Loans to make 120 payments on their student loans, while working full time in a qualified employer (501c3 Organization, or Public Service Organization). Many of our alumni work in this sector and qualify for this program. We recommend students with questions to reach out to Matthew Colver at or attend a workshop that is given over the year to ensure.

For additional information about the program, see the PSLF FAQ.  

Ongoing support and workshops about financial aid are available to students.

Financial Aid Support

Financial Aid workshops are given each semester for helping students manage student loans and financial resources. These workshops cover topics from budgeting, financial management, credit, Public Service Loan forgiveness and managing student loans after graduation.

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to Matthew Colver, Assistant Director of Financial Aid, for additional resources or support.


Scholarships are available to incoming and returning students. Contact Matthew Colver for more information about current scholarship support available through the Mandel School and other resources.

Course Delivery and Format

The decision has been reached that most, if not all, MSSA and MNO courses will be delivered remotely in the 2020-21 academic year. Please read this letter through thoroughly as it also outlines decisions you are being asked to make.

We have been working this summer to plan for your entry to the Mandel School in the fall. A few weeks ago you received an email from the school outlining plans to provide a dual-delivery course model. In that model, students may participate by physically attending class or joining via Zoom web-conferencing remotely. However, ongoing evaluation of how the classroom space would operate caused us to change our plans.

Our faculty conducted a vigorous evaluation of the dual-delivery model in our remodeled classrooms last week, which required them to have access to the classrooms that have been modified for physically-distanced instruction. They assessed every aspect of the student experience in the classroom and consulted with outside experts. Our faculty are dedicated to delivering a powerful education to you in the best possible manner, and we appreciate this careful and expeditious study done by them.

It was found that in the Zoom-enhanced rooms with ceiling microphones, lectures and whole-class discussions can be conducted very well. Participants in the classroom and on Zoom could hear the instructor and each other clearly. It was concluded that for lecture-oriented classes with whole-class discussions, the rooms will work.

Unfortunately, for courses that rely on breaking into small discussion groups, the rooms did not work well. The 6–9 foot distance separating people wearing masks in a small group required voices to be raised, and with two or more groups in a room, there was a distracting cacophony. Additionally, because masks obscure people’s faces, it was impossible to read facial expressions or work on developing social work skills that require one to be able to see the person’s face. Therefore, it was concluded that the use of small groups in the distanced classrooms will not work.

In contrast, the groups formed remotely over Zoom had excellent small group discussions, and because everyone’s faces were visible, learning and practicing social work skills worked well.

As our returning students know, the use of small groups is predominant in the MSSA curriculum. The use of this teaching tool has been promoted and supported over the last 10 years and now is a common tool for our flipped classrooms. Given the experience last week with small groups in the classroom, the decision has been reached that most, if not all, of the MSSA courses will be conducted remotely. This means that students will participate in their courses via Zoom.

You will notice in SIS we are beginning to code courses to reflect remote-delivery. This message provides a course delivery framework for the MNO and MSSA academic program at the Mandel School. We want to remind you that the Mandel School staff and faculty are available for your education and support. If you have any concerns or questions about the changes discussed in this communication please contact associate dean Sharon Milligan.

Any new or returning MSSA student who anticipates not residing in the Cleveland area must notify the Mandel School by sending an email message to as soon as possible.

Students who choose to participate in class remotely may contact the Mandel School Academic Affairs office to confirm their preference. Send your request through email: with 1) subject line student request for remote only for student enrolled in on-ground or on-campus instruction; 2) message: I request to attend my on-campus courses remote only with your name, cell phone number and student identification number.

The goal is to maintain the current class schedule. Please note that students will receive communication if any course or schedule revisions are made by the Mandel School.

The University and Mandel School are working on a process by which students, faculty, and staff will be able to use various spaces and rooms for many purposes, such as breaks or classes. We are aware that the campus internet connection is very robust and reliable, which may be another reason why people come to campus. Many spaces around campus, including the Mandel School and Center will be used in creative, innovative ways for classes and/or meetings.

For health and safety reasons, students will need to secure their own technology and accessories (i.e., laptops, headphones, microphones). The Mandel School and library will not be able to issue these to students. Technology instructions and needs will be communicated to students prior to the start of fall semester.

In light of travel restrictions and ongoing, evolving concerns about COVID-19, the University is working on alternative plans for study abroad trips. More information about study abroad will be shared as it becomes available. This fall there will be at least 1 virtual study abroad course offered.

Field Education

In field education, students are permitted to continue with on-site field placement experiences as previously planned. The Mandel School has developed a Remote Activities Policy which will support students in successfully completing field education requirements if on-site activities as directed by the placement site are limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. We will be sending out an email soon with the link to the Remote Activities Policy for your review. The field education faculty will be working closely with students and field instructors to develop supplemental plans for remote field activities if needed. We recognize that many organizations are providing a variety of services remotely and support our students in engaging in these critical activities as part of social work practice during a quickly evolving time in our profession.

Please continue to engage with your assigned field advisors regarding your field placements. Some students have already requested new field placements in cities where they live, while others plan to relocate to or remain in the Cleveland area to complete field placements as planned.

In addition, all new MSSA students enrolled in the on-campus, weekly format will also participate in CWRU’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) program and Collaborative Practice I course as part of the generalist year field education requirements. Interprofessional education is a central component of the social work profession and the field education program at the Mandel School. MSSA students will work in interprofessional teams to engage in service learning projects that are mutually beneficial to both student learning and community organizations. IPE teams also include students from public health, medicine, nursing, dental medicine, physician assistant, genetic counseling, psychology, and speech-language pathology programs. On Wednesday afternoons from 3–5 p.m., students will work remotely on community-based projects or attend team-based learning sessions. As stated earlier, in the coming year, IPE activities will be completed remotely unless physical distancing guidelines allow in-person participation and students elect to work in-person with their team. Any student with a confirmed course scheduling conflict on Wednesday afternoons will be exempted from IPE activities. More information about IPE and Collaborative Practice I will be provided during orientation.

MSSA students in the Intensive Weekend format are not required to complete IPE, but are welcome to participate if they elect to do so and are consistently available on Wednesday afternoons. Please contact your field advisor for additional information.

All students received an initial Field Education Welcome Letter, which provides an overview of the summer field placement process. Please consult the Field Education Calendar for important dates. Final policies regarding field education for the upcoming academic year are still in development and will be shared with students once they are available.

Students should continue to work directly with their assigned field faculty advisors over the summer to answer any questions regarding field placements and to ensure students are fully prepared to begin field in the fall semester.

Students need to wait to begin field placements until the beginning of the fall semester. The student liability insurance does not begin until the start of the field period (as listed in SIS), so it is important to follow these guidelines. If students have orientation requirements at field placements before classes begin, they may accrue and apply these field hours for fall semester with the prior approval of their Mandel School field faculty advisor.

Students should check with their field faculty advisors for onboarding requirements, such as a background check, TB testing or fingerprinting. Background checks/fingerprinting can be obtained through the CWRU Division of Public Safety. Students are responsible for all costs related to obtaining the background check.

Sgt Daniel Schemmel, CWRU Campus Police,is the contact person for this service.

  • BCI cost is $35. BCI and FBI fingerprinting, cost is $70. (Cash only)
  • By appointment only on Tuesday mornings or Thursday afternoons. No walk-ins.
  • Bring photo ID (drivers license preferred, state ID, passport)
  • Students should email or call to schedule with Sgt Schemmel at 216-368-5993 or visit the Public Safety Fingerprinting website.

The Mandel School will rely on field placement agencies to provide the necessary PPE as required by the policies of the individual placement sites--different sites will have varying requirements depending on the work the student is engaged in and the type of setting (ie health, community based, etc). If a student has a concern about PPE, they should first speak with their field advisor so that they might assist in following through with the organization to address/problem solve. Each student in the on-ground and intensive weekend programs will be provided with two cloth masks, which could also be used in field as a temporary measure.

COVID-19 Related Updates

Yes, in the University campus and buildings students are required to wear a mask. Each student will be provided with two cloth masks. If a person arrives at the school and has forgotten a mask, the school will provide a paper one.

Resources and Support

Case Western Reserve University and the Mandel School are actively working on ways to more fully integrate anti-racist materials and practices to improve education based on continued work towards dismantling systems of white supremacy and promoting social justice, including an emphasis on anti-racist work and actions on the part of white students. The Mandel School’s new generalist curriculum is being developed to intentionally incorporate material focused on diversity, inclusion, and social justice. The two-week CHAI (Change Agent Intensive) course will provide an immersion experience for first year students to learn about the social work profession, social justice, and building community. Advanced students will have exposure to new and different course material as well as field education opportunities. Campus and community Initiatives also provide ways for students to mobilize and take action. Whether students are looking for ways to support people of color or are seeking assistance, a growing list of videos and resources is being compiled for the Case Western Reserve community.

Undergraduate student leaders also have compiled a number of resources, available online, and the Graduate Student Council also has created a guide of anti-racism resources.

As social workers, we work for peaceful yet progressive change. In response to the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the nation, the Mandel School has compiled a list of anti-racism resources––articles, podcasts, videos, action items and more––to provide knowledge and tools to participate in key social justice issues.

This is an unprecedented time as we face the challenges of dealing with COVID-19 and confronting the effects of racism that are still deeply embedded in our society. The University and Mandel School are continuously updating the following webpages with new, evolving information to actively engage the entire campus community in health, safety, advocacy and action.

The Center for Civic Engagement & Learning (CCEL) at Case Western Reserve University is committed to promoting an active and engaged campus community. CCEL hopes to provide information on voter registration while also promoting diverse campus and community events related to upcoming elections. Contact CCEL to learn more about community resources, as well as ways to get involved in supporting voter rights.

More information available on the CWRU Elections and Voter Resources page.  

If you’re a student living on campus this semester and using a meal plan, there are a variety of dining options available. Meal swipes are accepted at university dining halls, as well as several retail locations across campus for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Dining hall meal swipe locations:

  • Leutner Commons: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Carlton Commons: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • DOSA Fast-Pass: Lunch and dinner

Retail meal swipe locations:

  • HEC Cafe and Bakery: Breakfast and lunch
  • Tomlinson Marketplace: Breakfast and Lunch
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • The Den
  • Tinkham Veale University Center
  • BRB Cafe
  • The Jolly Scholar

To view a full list of retail and dining hall locations that accept meal swipes, as well as meal options being offered, visit the dining services website.

Original article in The Daily

Student Engagement

In the shift from dual-delivery to remote-delivery, faculty are working on methods to engage students on issues important to social work, nonprofit organization practice, and career development. Mandel Council student leadership and the Mandel School student engagement team have already collectively determined that experiences such as conversations with professionals in different phases of their careers, discussions on practice experiences, and mentorship experiences would be invaluable for students. If you have ideas about topics for such talks, we would love to hear them.


Send the request through email to for inquiries about information and services related to the Registrar’s office. Additional information may be found on the University Registrar website.

Access Services

All services (parking passes, student ID card or replacement card) can be accessed through CWRU Access Services. In fall 2019 Mandel School students (and other graduate and professional school students) opted to participate in RTA U-Pass. The U-Pass fee for graduate and professional school students is $47.50 per semester (fall and spring). The U-Pass sticker must be affixed to the student ID. Students will be receiving an email on or before July 24 to register for the sticker.

School Social Work

The Mandel School does certify students for school social work throughout the United States. The first step is for a student to review the specific state’s regulations, determine the requirements for school social work and contact the state board of social work to confirm guidelines. The regulations, requirements and process vary by state. Dean Sharon Milligan and Professor Sarah Andrews will be able to assist students with questions.