Experiential Learning

(Practica, Internships, Externships, Coops, Volunteers, etc.)

Version: Feb.  11, 2021


It is expected that during the COVID-19 pandemic, all experiential learning opportunities that involve third party organizations and/or are located at off-university locations, will follow the standards in this document.

Each Faculty/unit  should consult with UCalgary Risk Management & Insurance (riskmgmt@ucalgary.ca) regarding Experiential Learning Opportunities, to ensure that faculty documents meet these risk standards. It is anticipated that faculties will develop a faculty level fillable pdf based on the standards in this document or use this document in its entirety.

All Experiential Learning Opportunities must align with current University of Calgary decisions related to travel both within Canada and internationally.


Faculty Supervisor*: The individual at UCalgary who oversees the Student during the Experiential Learning Opportunity.

Site Supervisor*: The individual at the Experiential Learning Site who oversees the Student’s day to day activities at the Experiential Learning Site.

COVID-19 Pandemic: Relates to the global health emergency declared by the WHO In January 2020.  These guidelines will remain in effect whilst related Government public health measures remain in place.

*NOTE:  Terminology for these two positions varies between faculties.  Please refer to Faculty documentation for specific definitions.


  1. Prevent, minimize and/or deal with the disruptions to education of the Students.
  2. Minimize health risks to Students, Site Supervisors, patients/clients/co-workers and the community.
  3. Articulate the details of the shared responsibility of UCalgary, the Student and the Experiential Learning Site with regard to risks and risk mitigation.


  1. Student tasks/participation:
    • Students on Experiential Learning Opportunities should only be permitted to perform tasks for which they are competent and for which the appropriate supervision can be provided by the Experiential Learning Site.
    • Student participation in any Experiential Learning Opportunity will be allocated according to the competence of the Student and the assessment of risk of the situation by their Faculty Supervisor and the Site Supervisor.
    • It is preferable, where possible, to adapt learning experiences to minimize exposure to risks (e.g. to allow the work to be done by phone/video rather than direct physical contact with others), until such time as advised by relevant health authorities and professional bodies (e.g. CARNA for nurses) that face-to-face contact is permitted.
    • All Experiential Learning Sites are expected to comply with the public health measures and restrictions of the Government of Alberta or those of the relevant government/health authority where the Experiential Learning Site will be located.
    • It is the Student’s decision whether or not to participate in an Experiential Learning Opportunity during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Students must not be coerced to participate in an Experiential Learning Opportunity.  Note that the Student’s decision not to participate during the COVID 19 Pandemic may lengthen their program.
    • Accommodations may be necessary for those who are or may be at increased risk including those who are pregnant, have serious chronic illness, are immuno-suppressed, are 60 years of age or older or those that require other accommodations during this Pandemic. Please see the Student Accommodation Policy for further information on these accommodations. Where the Faculty Supervisor is aware of a medically-compromised or pregnant Student, they should contact the Student and work with Student Accessibility Services to ensure any necessary and additional preventative precautions are appropriately implemented.  Students should be encouraged to identify if they are medically-compromised, pregnant, or 60 years of age or older so that appropriate Accommodations can be made, where possible.
    • At a minimum, the Faculty Supervisor should ensure that there is a mechanism in place during the first month of the Experiential Learning Opportunity, for a weekly conversation between Students and themselves, to ensure that any concerns can be addressed in a timely fashion.  After the first month, the Faculty Supervisor and the Student can determine the appropriate times.
  2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) / Site Safety Measures:

    Please note:  Students engaged in learning activities for which no compensation is paid to the Student are not covered by the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act.  However, if they are doing volunteer work, they may be covered by the Act.  As such, UCalgary is recommending the following:
    • The Site Supervisor will inform the Student and the Faculty Supervisor regarding the Site Safety measures, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will be available at the Site, prior to the commencement of the experience.  If the Student is expected to provide their own non-medical mask for the workplace, this will also be indicated.
    • The Site Supervisor will indicate any vaccination requirements to the Student and Faculty Supervisor prior to the signing of this document.
    • The Experiential Learning Site is expected to provide Students with the same protection (i.e. PPE and safety training) as the Experiential Learning Site’s employees during this pandemic.  This includes fit-testing the Student where appropriate.
    • It is expected that Students and Site Supervisors will take steps to reduce their risk of exposure by using the appropriate PPE and following Alberta Health Services or relevant health authority standards as well as Occupational Health and Safety standards.
    • Students and Site Supervisors are expected to comply with relevant laws, policies and regulations around health and safety, infection control, surveillance and occupational health.
    • If a Student is within 2 metres of an individual who is unable or unwilling to wear a mask or cover their cough or sneeze, it is mandatory for Students to wear an appropriate mask as determined by the local health authority or the Site Supervisor.  The workplace may choose to have more stringent guidelines in place.
    • The Experiential Learning Site must not expect or coerce Students to engage in any activity without appropriate protective measures in place when it is required.
    • Where the Experiential Learning opportunity will include the student undertaking virtual service delivery, the risk assessment of such work will include ensuring that they are able to meet the relevant IT standard for virtual practice as set out by the appropriate regulatory or professional body.  The relevant professional body must also be consulted to ensure that completing this work through virtual means is acceptable under their regulations.
    • Where an Experiential Learning Opportunity site requires its workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Student will adhere to the requirements of the site or pursue an alternate site for their Opportunity.
  3. Exposure/Illness/Leaves of Absences
    • As part of their responsibilities, if any Student or Site Supervisor has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they must follow the relevant public health measures as well as those of the Experiential Learning Opportunity Site with respect to staying home, reporting, testing, etc.    If any Student is sick, it is good professional practice to stay away from the Experiential Learning Site until they are symptom free.
  4. Exposure:  Students who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have tested positive are required to immediately inform their Faculty Supervisor and their Site Supervisor and follow all Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services or relevant government or health authority guidelines as well as any directives from the Experiential Learning Site.  Such Site directives may be more stringent than local health authority requirements.
    • Students may have a right to file a Workers Compensation claim if they have been exposed to COVID-19 through their Experiential Learning Site opportunity. Further information on WC coverage can be accessed on the Risk Management & Insurance website.
    • If a Students’ Experiential Learning Opportunity is interrupted by a requirement for the Student to self-isolate or quarantine, or by the temporary closure of the Experiential Learning Site, the Faculty Supervisor and the Site Supervisor will work together to determine if the Experiential Learning Opportunity can be extended to allow for the required hours to be completed.
    • The Faculty Supervisor and the Site Supervisor will exercise flexibility on a case-by-case basis for Students who require a leave from their Practicum for compassionate reasons in line with Faculty approved guidelines for managing absences.
  5. Agreement with the Experiential Learning Sites. (Many sites will already have existing agreements that relevant portions can be referenced and added here)
    • If an existing Practicum or other Experiential Learning Agreement is in place between the University of Calgary and the Experiential Learning Site, that agreement will be primary with respect to liability and indemnity provisions.
    • Where an existing Practicum or other Experiential Agreement is not in place between the two parties, the Experiential Learning Sites formally acknowledges, by signing a copy of these guidelines, that UCalgary is not responsible for any financial or other loss to their business related to COVID-19.

______________________________________                                  ______________________________________ 
Student Name (please print)                                                                      Student Signature                                                                   

______________________________________                                  ______________________________________ 
Faculty Supervisor Name (please print)                                                    Faculty Supervisor Signature      

______________________________________                                  ______________________________________ 
Experiential Learning Site Name                                                               Dates of Experiential Learning Opportunity

______________________________________                                  ______________________________________ 
Experiential Learning Site Supervisor                                                       Experiential Learning Site Supervisor Signature
Name (please print)                                                               

Signed copies of this document will be held in the Faculty office overseeing the Experiential Learning Opportunity.

With respect to home visits, we ask that the Field Level Hazard Assessment be completed. It will allow your group to run through the possible risks of this type of work. We would also suggest that a site-specific assessment be completed for the residential locations as there may be something in the general field hazard assessment that is not considered with respect to a specific location. 

We are investigating into whether the new SoloSafe Program, which is part of the UC Emergency App, will work in locations off the University of Calgary campuses.

Other items that might be considered in the Field Level Hazard Assessment could include:

  • Driving – see the template for the recommended controls but you may want to add ‘means to secure cargo inside vehicle’ if applicable. If using a UCalgary-owned vehicle, they must be registered with our department as a driver. If using a rental vehicle there are different processes and coverages if there is an accident, etc.
  • Operational Tasks - Working Alone – recommended controls include but are not limited to: cellphone, add shared calendars or logbook containing client/destination information, regular check-in process with employee if working alone (such as using SoloSafe). 
  • Mobility– walking to and from vehicle and buildings, in a variety of weather condition - recommended controls include but not limited to: Slips, Trips and Falls Prevention training, appropriate non-slip footwear, weather appropriate protective clothing, etc.
  • Manual Material Handling  specify any medical equipment and materials being used on the HACF — e.g. oxygen canisters, monitors, medications, etc. - recommended controls include but not limited to: Safe Lifting Training, portable dolly, manageable load size, etc.
  • Operating equipment – note that equipment should be named on the HACF in the “Task Column” and hazards specific to the equipment need to be identified - recommended controls include but are not limited to: operator manuals, user training, inspections, maintenance program, etc.
  • Interacting with people
    • Psychological hazards – difficult persons or situations
    • Workplace violence – controls include but not limited to: Workplace Violence Policy, Workplace Violence Awareness Training, determine reasonability and whether there is a process for background/security checks
    • Infectious diseases – influenza, common cold, blood and body fluids, etc.
  • Emergency response (e.g. fire, sudden illness or injury, etc.) – recommended controls include but not limited to: knowledge of home exits and site-specific hazards, emergency procedures and training, emergency communication/notification plan
  • Household Pets  allergies, bites, scratches - recommended controls include but not limited to: procedure for pet owners to isolate pets away from work area in the home while employee is on site — select employee work assignments to prevent allergen exposure

In addition to the above, home healthcare activities (e.g. assessments, wound care, etc.) should be considered when anticipating hazards and risk of harm to employees.