In light of COVID-19, we have modified the Student Service-Learning (SSL) Verification Form so the parent or guardian can sign off on the form as students complete independent SSL hours at home (virtually). Forms are attached in English, Spanish, and French. Students and parents should email the completed form back to their professional school counselor or service-learning coordinator so that they may enter the SSL hours into SchoolMax.
For service hours earned during the summer months, students may continue to use the COVID-19 forms or they may use the standard forms.
Please Use the Revised Service-Learning Verification Forms During COVID-19:
Here are a few suggestions from the MSDE Specialist who oversees Student Service-Learning regarding service opportunities during COVID-19:
During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, recommendations and restrictions change frequently and rapidly. Most critically, everyone needs to follow the State and national guidance and regulations issued to keep everyone safe. The Superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education will issue any school policy changes. Please continue to follow that guidance.
As all of this unfolds, many young people and school systems are asking what they can, cannot, should, or should not be doing in relation to service-learning. Schools are closed, but many students either want to be helpful and support their communities during this pandemic, and/or want and/or need to earn service-learning hours towards fulfillment of the current service-learning graduation requirement.
As physical distancing is required right now, the best option for young people looking for ways to be of service to others would be through indirect and advocacy service-learning projects they can engage in at home.
News stories abound right now of creative, thoughtful young people taking the initiative collecting and assembling essential supplies for at risk populations (hygiene kits that include hand sanitizer, wipes, soap, etc. for people who are homeless; food baskets for people who are food insecure; activity kits for people who are homebound, etc.).
Technology provides unique opportunities for students to reach out, support, and encourage people who are the most isolated. Nursing homes and care facilities have needed to stop all visitation in order to protect their residents who are most at risk from COVID-19. But technologies like ZOOM, Skype, Google Hangouts, WebEx, and FaceTime could allow youth to still interact with these populations who are feeling especially isolated. Students could arrange with facilities, using video conferencing technology, to perform music for residents, organize a sing-a-long, play games, hold a virtual prom, read together, and visit.
There have been calls for community support in the creation of masks, gowns, and face shields that can be used by hospitals. Students who are interested and able to have access to materials and equipment like sewing machines or 3D printers might decide to engage in those actions. Students could also participate remotely in long-established activities with organizations like Project Linus, Casey Cares, Kids Helping Hopkins, Cool Kids Campaign, The Ronald McDonald House, Believe in Tomorrow, and The Children’s Inn at NIH, etc. to provide support.
Students could also engage in advocacy projects from home: emailing leaders advocating on issues on which students have conducted research and want to see policy changes; creating social media campaigns on various issues, including promoting critical COVID-19 safe behaviors such as the need to physically distance ourselves from one another. Keeping physical distance does not have to mean social isolation, and students can help the community understand ways to remain connected despite keeping physically apart.
High-quality indirect and advocacy service-learning projects can be done from home as long as students work to meet Maryland’s Seven Best Practices of Service-Learning. Students need to be encouraged as they research the issue they are working on to vet their sources of information.