Field Experiences

Field Experiences


Each semester, TC students enrolled in New York State certification and licensure programs engage with student teaching placements and field experiences within a wide range of settings, from NYC-area public schools to hospital clinics. The 2022-2023 academic year will require us to remain vigilant to risks associated with COVID-19, but TC is as committed as ever to providing students with access to safe and meaningful field placement experiences as they prepare for their chosen careers.

Students engaged in field experiences are playing a dual role as guests of the host site and students of Teachers College, and as a result they are responsible for meeting two sets of COVID-19 Risk Reduction requirements: those established by Teachers College, and those established by their field site. Prior to entering a field site, TC students must meet all requirements for accessing the TC campus, including submitting proof of COVID-19 vaccination to TC. In addition, students are responsible for learning about the COVID-19-related entry requirements that are in place at their field site, and meeting those requirements prior to their first day on site.

Student Support Team for Navigating COVID-19 Risks

Students have access to three important TC-Based Resources for navigating COVID-19 risks in the field:

  1. Each program’s Field Experience Coordinator, who can help students navigate their placement experience (check with your academic program for this contact information);
  2. The TC Office of Student Health and Wellness, which has developed confidential and supportive protocols to respond to COVID-19 exposure;
  3. The TC Office of Access and Services for Students with Disabilities (OASID), which can support students who have health conditions and need accommodations for 2022-2023.

Each student’s site-based resources include the site administrator and the site-based mentor (if applicable).

Host Site Responsibilities

  • Hosts are responsible for complying with all local, state, and federal guidelines for maintaining a clean and safe work environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as any local, state, or federal guidelines that are specific to the operation.
  • Hosts are responsible for providing graduate student guests with the level of PPE and PPE training that is provided to employees engaged in similar activities, if applicable.
  • Hosts are responsible for sharing site-specific requirements related to COVID-19 testing, COVID-19 symptoms, and COVID-19 exposure with graduate student guests who will access their field site.

Student Responsibilities

  • As noted above, students must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to physically accessing a field site for a TC field experience, even if they do not intend to access the TC campus. For instructions on how to share proof of vaccination with TC’s Preparedness team, go to www.tc.edu/preparedness.
  • Students have the right to ask for PPE and PPE training from their host site if PPE and PPE training is provided to staff engaged in similar activities. The field experience coordinator is here to help initiate that conversation and to help students navigate questions and challenges as they come up across the semester. If a host refuses to provide adequate PPE to the student, the student should alert their field experience coordinator right away.
  • Students are responsible for becoming familiar with and following any COVID-19-related protocols that are in place at their host site, such as COVID-19 screenings, COVID-19 testing, and disclosure protocols if the student or a close contact becomes sick.
  • Students are responsible for their behavior at the field site.
  • Students are responsible for their behavior off site. Students should familiarize themselves with their local COVID-19 guidelines and comply with local policies related to COVID-19 risk reduction. A student who is found to have violated local policies may have their in-person field experience terminated in order to protect the health of the communities they serve.
  • Students who test positive for COVID-19 or experience symptoms of COVID-19 must follow their field site’s reporting and quarantine protocols. In addition, students should immediately complete the TC Health Screening form to report symptoms or a positive case, so that they can receive guidance on when they may safely return to campus. If students receive differing quarantine-length guidance from TC and their field site, they should follow the longest recommended timeline.
  • Students should speak up right away to their field experience coordinator and their site-based support system if they have concerns about health and safety at their field site; TC is here to help.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to hold health insurance. Read information about the Columbia University Insurance Plan here.

Note for TC-Based Centers and Clinics

Some TC students complete their field experience requirements at TC-based centers and clinics such as the Dean Hope Center, the Mysak Clinic, and the Rita Gold Early Childhood Center. Please note that the policies of TC-based centers and clinics may be more stringent than those in place for the broader TC campus, because many of our centers serve vulnerable populations. Well before the placement begins, students should reach out to their field experience coordinator and/or field site director to learn about the site’s COVID-19 requirements.

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