Ethics in an Epidemic: Nine Issues to Consider

James C. Raines, Jim Raines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article addresses nine ethical concerns facing school social workers during an epidemic and other emergency situations when they must rely on electronic communication platforms, such as, Skype, or Zoom. These issues of concern are use of appropriate terminology, client self-determination, technological competence, informed consent, confidentiality, boundary issues, social justice, record keeping, and professional self-care. The article combines research on the psychosocial effects of quarantine on students and their families and data about the effectiveness of telemental health. It provides legal expectations from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as well as ethical guidance from the American Telemedicine Association and the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics to provide practical strategies about how to help students and their families during a time of prolonged stress. The article takes a strengths-based approach to crisis intervention by indicating both the advantages and the disadvantages of using electronic communication tools to provide continuity of care to clients.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalChildren & Schools
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Social Work

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