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3.9.20 Update to Palo Alto University RE: Grownowski Clinic

Dear PAU Community,

To date, PAU has received no information from public health authorities or from PAU-approved practicum training sites indicating an elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure for students in clinical training.  According to authorities, however, the coronavirus is more likely to spread when many people gather together closely. Consequently, out of an abundance of caution, local public health authorities have recommended that schools, businesses, and other organizations minimize the number of people working within arm’s length of one another by limiting or canceling large in-person meetings, community gatherings, and conferences, and by encouraging telecommuting. Santa Clara County outpatient healthcare facilities have also been advised to replace in-person meetings with video meetings or telephone conferences, as well as to explore alternatives to face-to-face, in-person care for patients. In addition, local mental health programs have begun limiting in-person care and are now providing clinical services primarily through telecommunication technologies. 

In accordance with these guidelines and in order to maximize patient, staff, and student safety, today the Gronowski Clinic will begin a temporary transition from providing in-person patient care to delivering tele-psychological services supported through tele-supervision.  We plan to complete this transition by the close of Spring Break, 3/29/20. In addition, subject to HIPAA and certain security requirements, Clinic students will be able to remotely access the patient record system to complete progress notes and treatment plans.

Fortunately, several PAU faculty members have exceptional expertise in telepsychology, and their expertise will inform the Clinic’s transition.  Gronowski Clinic students and supervisors will closely adhere to APA guidelines for the practice of telepsychology (

PAU leadership is aware that current APA Standards of Accreditation include certain implementing regulations that limit the use of online teaching, tele-psychology, and tele-supervision in accredited doctoral programs in clinical psychology. The Department of Education, however, has recently issued guidance allowing accreditors to adjust accreditation requirements in order to accommodate universities’ responses to the evolving COVID-19 situation. PAU administration is actively engaged in discussions with APA leadership to assure that PAU students will continue to satisfy accreditation standards at every phase of the curriculum without jeopardizing our students’ safety or well-being or that of their patients and colleagues.

Unless directed otherwise by public health authorities or dictated by a severe escalation of the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, the Gronowski Clinic will remain open after the transition to tele-psychological services in order to manage patient services and episodes of patient care necessitating direct contact, as well as other aspects of Clinic operations. No staff will be furloughed.  Staff teleconferencing and telecommuting will be encouraged when feasible, and In-person staff schedules may be staggered to reduce the number of people coming together at the same time.


James N. Breckenridge, Ph.D.
Chief of Staff & Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, Analysis, and Planning

Sandy Macias
Director, The Gronowski Center