First, we hope that this message finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe. Please be sure to make time to care for yourselves as you care for your families, friends and community members.
As you are aware, many health and human service organizations, institutions of higher education and other such entities are taking action to slow the spread of COVID-19. Such actions include, but are not limited to, social distancing, canceling public gatherings and meetings, suspending travel and moving courses to online/distance education delivery methods. Within the social work profession alone, we have seen the cancelation of at least two key conferences, the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors conference and the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work conference.
In looking forward to July 2020 and considering the available information about COVID-19, the state of affairs is uncertain. We are unable to say with certainty that it will be safe for you to travel to the conference and gather with others who share your commitment to rural social work practice. Along those lines, we do not know if restrictions on travel, large meetings, etc., will be lifted at that point. Given the uncertainty of the situation, we, in consultation with the leadership of the National Rural Social Work Caucus, have decided to cancel the 45th National Institute on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas. We must say that we are very disappointed, as we are sure you are, too. However, we believe this is the best course of action given the current circumstances.
Now for some good news! Better Together, SFA’s School of Social Work and the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health are sponsoring an online symposium in July 2020 that explores the effects of COVID-19 on the well-being of rural communities. More details are coming soon.
I hope to see each of you at the 46th National Institute on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas at California University in Pennsylvania in July 2021! Visit here for more information about future conferences.