Powers Update Regarding COVID-19 Guidance for Postsecondary Institutions – Powers
The spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) has had an unprecedented impact on higher education institutions across the country. Schools are closing campuses, sending students home, and transitioning their academic programs from brick-and-mortar sites to distance education delivery methods. This article provides links to, and briefly summarizes, recent guidance issued by federal agencies and potential legislation designed to ease the burden on higher education institutions. All affected schools should remember to document any changes to their programs and to communicate the changes to their accreditors. Institutions should also promptly alert students to any changes in programs, the academic calendar, or method of instruction.
U.S. Department of Education
To assist institutions in making changes to their operations, the U.S. Department of Education (“ED” or “Department”) published an electronic announcement titled “Guidance for interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (COVID-19)” on March 5, 2020 covering multiple scenarios that have arisen for schools and students. On March 20, 2020, the Department supplemented the Guidance with additional frequently asked questions (“3/20 FAQs”). The guidance touches on several aspects of the Title IV programs, including the following:
- Approval to Offer Distance Education: The Department provided broad approval for institutions to offer distance education on a temporary basis to students currently in attendance without going through the regular approval process.