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Experiential Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic


Cal Poly has a pre-existing policy for credit-bearing internships. This policy requires the signed Release of Liability and a learning agreement, as well as the signed Internship Site Self-Assessment and Student Acknowledgement of Risks (one form).

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CSU instituted a new policy for on-site, credit-bearing forms of experiential learning: student internships, as well as student teaching, clinicals, practicums, service learning, field placements, etc.

The basic principles of the CSU policy are incorporated into the following new guidelines for Cal Poly:

  1. Students enrolled in experiential learning programs who for medical or other approved reasons need to be given a virtual option to the extent allowed by accrediting and credentialing bodies. This provision should include allied health clinical experiences and education programs (student teaching) if and when possible.
  2. Students who choose to participate in on-site experiential learning programs must receive COVID-19 safety training consistent with federal, state, local, and CSU guidance and/or mandates as part of their orientation and prior to participation. This training will be provided by Cal Poly in the form of an online course that is available in Skillsoft. The training is available here.
  3. Students engaged in on-site experiential learning must sign the Release of Liability, which includes an acknowledgement that they have been informed of and understand the risks to their own health presented by COVID-19. Questions for exceptions should be addressed to the campus risk management officer or campus counsel.

  4. If a student will be receiving a higher-risk placement, please consult with Cal Poly's Risk Management Office regarding the need for obtaining a COVID-19-specific waiver from the student. A higher-risk placement is defined as one in which it is known that a student will be working or coming into contact with individuals who are known to have been infected with COVID-19.

  5. Guidelines issued by public health agencies as well as federal, state, and local governments must be followed. These guidelines may change as the pandemic develops.
  6. All required forms must be completed and signed by the student, the site representative, and the on-campus internship coordinator for the department or college. They should then be submitted at least seven days before the student begins the experience, or no later than the add/drop date. See "Required Application" for more details.
  7. In addition, all other requirements of Cal Poly’s existing policies on internships and other forms of experiential learning must be met.


As a reminder, these guidelines only apply to on-site, credit-bearing forms of experiential learning; they do not apply if the experience is entirely virtual and/or it is not being completed for academic credit.

Note: International students may not begin paid or unpaid off-campus employment without work authorization. F-1 visa students must have Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorized by an international student advisor prior to the start date of an internship. Information about how to qualify and apply for CPT can be found here. Questions about CPT can be directed to


For students who choose to participate in on-site experiential learning programs, the required application will consist of the following:

  1. A PDF of the Skillsoft Learning Transcript page verifying that the student has completed the required COVID-19 safety training. The page can be accessed on the Skillsoft site by pulling down the My Profile menu and clicking on Learning History.
  2. The Release of Liability, signed by the student; see here. In the case of a higher-risk placement, the student will sign a COVID-19-specific waiver.
  3. In the case of an internship, a signed learning agreement and the Site Self-Assessment, signed by the student, the site representative, and the on-campus internship coordinator.
  4. Any other forms otherwise required for the specific experience, e.g., an internship learning agreement as prepared by the college or department for all internships — see the agreement outline (pdf) — or an affiliation agreement for certain types of field work.



Since the goal of this policy is to make the process clear, concise, and streamlined, each department and college is asked to follow these procedures:

  1. The student, the site representative, and the on-campus internship coordinator will complete the required forms.
  2. The completed forms will be sent as a single PDF per student to the appropriate department staff, who will verify its completeness before the student receives a permission number or is otherwise allowed to enroll in the appropriate course.
  3. The PDF will then be forwarded to the appropriate college staff, who will upload the applications into the APP OneDrive folder designated for the college, and then notify the appropriate associate dean that the documents have been uploaded.
  4. The associate dean will assure that the policy is fully and correctly implemented.


Source: "California State University Experiential Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic." Memo from Zachary Gifford, Director, Systemwide Risk Management, to CSU Provosts, 4 October 2021.


last updated December 14, 2021

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