Frequently Asked Questions: Service and COVID-19

Whether you’ve already committed to full-time service in fall 2020 or you’re still considering participating in a CVN program, you probably have questions about the ways that COVID-19 is affecting service programs. Below you’ll find our most up-to-date knowledge of the ways that CVN programs are adapting to the Coronavirus crisis.

The following information is aggregated from a survey of all CVN member programs. It is important to note that each program is independently run and has its own set of policies in place. The information below is a good starting point, but you should consult your specific program to find out exactly what they’ll be doing to adjust to COVID-19 risks. As the status of the Coronavirus outbreak changes, programs will likely also adapt their policies to stay in compliance with public health safety measures. 

Will CVN programs still operate in fall 2020?

For the most part, yes. A minority of CVN programs have decided to suspend operations as a result of COVID-19. International programs have particularly difficult obstacles to operation given closed borders, travel restrictions, and lack of healthcare infrastructure in the communities in which they operate. However, many domestic and international programs will continue operating in the 2020-2021 service term.

Are programs still recruiting volunteers for fall 2020?

Yes! Some programs are full, but many are still seeking volunteers to fill a variety of roles. If there are particular programs in RESPONSE that appeal to you, your first step is to reach out to those programs directly and see if they’re still accepting applications. If you’d like to search open positions only, the best place to start is our Urgent Opportunities page. Positions are posted as they come in from programs across the country – they’d love to hear from you.

Please scroll to the bottom of this post for our list of programs still recruiting for Fall 2020 start dates – list last updated 6/30/2020*

What are programs doing to keep volunteers safe?

Over the past several months, we have engaged in many conversations with program staff in our Network about the Coronavirus outbreak – and the safety of volunteers is always the #1 concern. Each program will have its own policies in place regarding COVID-19. Examples of precautions being taken include: requiring COVID-19 tests for all volunteers, conducting ongoing temperature checks for volunteers, requiring volunteers to self-quarantine together for two weeks before starting work at their placement sites, requiring volunteers to sign liability waivers regarding COVID-19, providing thermometers, providing and requiring face coverings, adapting service to virtual settings, and requesting that volunteers get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available.

Questions about these policies should be directed to the individual programs you’re interested in.

Will I serve remotely (from the program’s volunteer house) or in-person at my placement site?

A small number of programs and placements will be hosting virtual service experiences for volunteers who live in community in the program’s housing. Others have plans to move service to a virtual space if an outbreak of COVID-19 occurs in the local area. Some service placements are essential services in their communities, and volunteers will be expected to serve in-person as they are able. Much of this depends on the type of placement.

Will I have to self-quarantine?

Programs are likely to ask volunteers to quarantine together in their homes after they move to their new locations. So, most volunteers will be spending 14 days at home, but they will spend that time getting to know their new house communities (in some cases, participating in virtual orientation programming) rather than alone. In some cases, volunteer programs will not place volunteers into community-living environments, but rather will arrange for volunteers to live independently while travelling to and working at their placement sites.

Will I have to get a COVID-19 test?

Many programs plan to require volunteers to provide proof of a test or to make tests available to volunteers after they arrive. This should be clarified with the particular program you wish to participate in.

Will there be any changes to orientation programs and/or retreats?

Many of these programs have been moved online. Programs that would typically host orientation in a single city before sending volunteers to placements around the country will now send volunteers directly to their placements. In many cases, online orientation will take place in conjunction with self-quarantines in volunteer houses upon move-in. Some start dates/orientations have also been delayed from their usual schedules as a result of COVID-19.

Will I have adequate healthcare coverage in the event that I do get sick?

Most CVN programs provide healthcare to volunteers who don’t have coverage (from parents, spouses, or other sources). Some programs even reimburse volunteers for their out-of-pocket healthcare expenses up to a certain amount. If you have questions about this, talk with your program directly.

Will my program restrict/regulate my comings and goings from the volunteer house?

Some volunteers live in community with high-risk individuals, including religious sisters and brothers in at-risk demographic groups. Others do not, but they still live in intentional community with others. While program staff members may or may not require certain precautions, in many cases volunteers themselves may decide that their efforts to take care of one another include reducing movement in and out of the volunteer house or taking other precautions.


If you have further questions regarding service and COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at CVN ([email protected]). You can also find our COVID-19 Resource Page here.

If you’ve already committed to a service program for the fall and you have specific questions about their COVID-19 practices, please contact your program directly.

Ready to serve? Check out our Urgent Opportunities to see who is still actively recruiting volunteers to start in the fall! 


List of Programs Still Accepting Volunteers for Fall 2020 (*updated 6/30/2020)

Looking to become a volunteer with one of these programs? Click their links above – or create your own Volunteer Profile to let them know you’re ready to serve.

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