It is time to take a breath—albeit a cautious one—in hopes that we can begin to think of the future once again. For all of us, the year behind has shaped all the years ahead. We’ve watched the devastation of a global pandemic and the pulling back of the curtain on the injustices that plague us at so many levels. We are reminded, more than ever, of our commitment to social justice. And we are reminded of the power and productivity of joining together in crisis. Field educators everywhere have been a global team in a way we may never have thought possible.

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has taken the time to address the impact of the pandemic and, no doubt, the proposed 2022 EPAS have been influenced by this important time in our history. We thank Dr. Melissa Reitmeier, chair of CSWE’s Council on Field Education, for being interviewed for this issue’s Conversation about the proposed changes to the competencies that shape our students’ learning. The elevation of antiracist language across all areas of competence is a central feature of the proposed changes.

The heartbeat of field education continues to race during this transformative time. While we have worked our hardest to find placements, support students, and keep the wheels of social work field education moving, we have also witnessed the uneven impact of the pandemic on our students. This is not a new phenomenon, but rather an exaggerated version of an old conversation. That is, how do we equitably prepare future social workers when factors such as race and class still exclude promising candidates? This, too, is being examined by CSWE, with some operational changes being proposed to the standards governing field placements at places of employment. While this could help to address matters of equity, it has the potential also to be a partial answer to concerns about the scarcity of and demand for quality learning experiences.

While we have endured tremendous stress during the year of COVID, we have also learned much. We must find ways to sustain quality field education and utilize the innovative thinking that has arisen from this adversity. For many years, the cry to attend to the looming crisis in field education has grown louder. The pandemic has mobilized us all to look more closely at creative alternatives. I would imagine that I am far from alone in hoping that we continue this partnership of social work programs with one another—and with our training partners—as we have done so powerfully through this global crisis, so that we can all get back to the future—together.