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March 9, 2020 - Letter to Students to Ph.D. Practicum Students at External Training Sites

March 9, 2020 - Letter to Students to PHD Practicum Students at External Training Sites

Dear Students,

As health professionals, psychologists are expected to provide client care in a variety of locations and environments. PAU students who are currently in clinical training sites may therefore be concerned about whether there is an increased probability of exposure to patients with COVID-19.  

Our goal with respect to clinical training is to follow public health guidelines as well as attending to the continuity of student training.  At present, we have no information to indicate that trainees are at greater risk in their clinical training sites than they are in public settings. Therefore, at this time, PAU is recommending that trainees follow guidance or expectations for other employees or staff in comparable positions at their training sites, unless trainee-specific guidance is provided.  If your site indicates that you may be at increased risk for exposure, please follow their guidelines.  Ph.D. Clinical Training faculty will be requesting that your Training Directors provide you with site-specific guidance and information about site policies. We will also ask them to send to Ph.D. Clinical Training faculty copies of this information.

As you know, the coronavirus outbreak is a highly dynamic situation.  PAU administrators are therefore keeping close watch on daily developments.  We are also in contact with accrediting bodies to obtain their guidance. As more information is available over the next days and weeks, we will continue to update policies for students placed at practicum sites, and we will inform students and sites quickly as new policies emerge.  

At this time, we recommend that you do the following:

·       Inform yourself with accurate information from CDC

·       Follow the CDC guidelines at

·       Request and follow specific procedures or guidelines at your site.

·       Follow recommended precautions to wash your hands frequently during the day with soap and water for 20 seconds, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

·       Stay home if you are sick; cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue or into your elbow if tissues are not available.

·       Develop and discuss plans with your supervisor should you or your client become ill.

·       Contact your doctor if you have specific questions about your health or your level of risk or if you know that you have health concerns that put you at higher risk. If you do have serious health concerns, contact Drs. Jayme Peta ( or Genevieve Arnaut (, Dean of Students, Thom Shepard ( ), and your supervisor immediately. 

·       Contact Drs. Jayme Peta or Genevieve Arnaut, as well as your site, and your doctor immediately if you become ill.  If you stop attending your practicum for any other reason, you must alert Dr Peta immediately.  

·       If needed, request that your site provide disinfecting materials, such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.  Use wipes frequently throughout the day to clean shared areas.

·       Address the stress and anxiety that might arise in you and/or your patients in response to the news about the coronavirus. Along these lines, APA has provided some information and guidance:

o   News reports about the coronavirus, together with speculation that it could become more widespread, has increased overall anxiety for both clinicians and the public.  Here are some tips to help you and your clients manage anxiety and put news reports in perspective.  

o   APA’s flagship podcast,  Speaking of Psychology, explains why we worry about new risks more than familiar ones, how to calm our anxiety and the psychological effects of being quarantined.  

Contact Drs. Jayme Peta or Genevieve Arnaut, if you need additional support or resources regarding your clinical training site.  If you need general support or guidance regarding COVID-19, contact Dean of Students, Thom Shepard (

PAU is providing ongoing and updated guidance for students here: Palo Alto University Coronavirus Resource Page

You are strongly encouraged to attend the 5pm Town Hall today and the meeting to follow directly after the Town Hall for PhD Practicum Students: Full invitation below.

Dr Arnaut and Dr Peta