Key Issues for Higher Education 

Accreditation Issues

MSCHE Accreditation-Related Updates (May 27, 2020-Webcast) 

During webcast, members of the MSCHE staff will address new United States Department of Education regulations that become effective on July 1, 2020, review MSCHE plans going forward into the 2020-2021 year,  provide updates surrounding MSCHE events and policies, and discuss changes that have been implemented to allow for accreditation activities to continue.

Suspension of Federal Requirements on Accreditors (March 17, 2020)

The Trump administration today suspended a series of federal requirements for college accreditors because of the coronavirus pandemic.  The U.S. Department of Education gave accreditors permission to conduct virtual site visits instead of in-person inspections of campuses as hundreds of institutions scale back operations and restrict visitors on campus. (March 17, 2020)

Middle States Accreditation Operational Changes

The commission has a recorded webinar on how COVID-19 will affect its accreditation operations.

Academic Program Accreditors & Guidance Relating to COVID-19

WCET/SAN has compiled a list of web links to the COVID-19 pages of academic program accreditors (e.g. nursing, social work, physical therapy, etc.)


AP 2020 Exam Updates

Pennsylvania AP Webinar - Tuesday, April 28th at 10 AM

Extending the Deposit Deadline for Accepted Students (NACAC)

The National Association of College Admissions Counselors has the results of a survey showing what colleges and universities have extended their deadline for admission deposits beyond May 1, 2020.

Accepted Student Admission Deposit Deadlines (Chronicle, March 18, 2020)

Article on why some institutions are extending their deadline for admissions deposits and others are not.

Campus Facilities 

Sharing Campus Facilities Resources during the COVID-19 Crisis

Guidance for college and university administrators on allowing government agencies to utilize facilities or other resources on campus.

PA Department of Health Facility Cleaning Order (April 5, 2020)

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has ordered all businesses in Pennsylvania to begin cleaning and disinfecting facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  This order applies to all buildings with more than 50,000 square feet.

EPA Listing of Antimicrobial Products for Use Against COVID-19

This is a listing of EPA-registered disinfectants for cleaning surfaces for the COVID-19 virus.

CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief - Minority Serving Institutions

Letter from the Secretary of Education on funds to Minority Serving Institutions (April 30, 2020) 
Certificate of Funding and Agreement to be signed by Minority Serving Higher Education Institution

CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund & Student Aid

Examples of Required Institutional Reporting of CARES Act Emergency Aid Grants

CARES Act Frequently Asked Questions (NAICU- updated April 16, 2020) 

Cover Letter from the Secretary of Education (April 9, 2020)      

Certificate of Funding and Agreement to be signed by Higher Education Institution

FAQs on Grants to Students under the CARES Act (April 21, 2020)

These FAQs address only those funds provided by the U.S. Secretary of Education to a higher education institution for emergency financial aid grants to students.          

Guidance on Required Institutional Reporting of CARES Emergency Aid Grants to Students (May 6, 2020) 

Table of Allocations of Funding to Institutions under Section 18004(a)(1) of CARES Act

CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund-Institutional Portion

Letter from the Secretary of Education-Institutional Portion (April 21, 2020) 
CARES Certification and Agreement-Institutional Portion (April 21, 2020)
Frequently Asked Questions about the Institutional Portion (April 21, 2020)
Guidance on How to Apply for Funding-Institutional Portion  
The funding opportunity number is  ED-GRANTS-042120-00

CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief - Strengthening Institution Programs

Letter from the Secretary of Education on funds for the Strengthening Institutions Program (April 30, 2020)   
Certificate of Funding and Agreement to be signed for the Strengthening Institutions Program

Census 2020

Census 2020 & Counting Students (March 15, 2020)

The U.S. Census Bureau is adjusting it count operations and suspending field operations until April 1, 2020. Some changes have been made to the procedures to count students living in institution-owned housing.

What College Students Need to Know to be Counted in the Right Place

Link to a video on the 2020 Census targeted to students and produced by the Census Bureau

Family & Medical Leave Act & COVID-19

Family and Medical Leave Act (U.S. Department of  Labor) 

Questions and answers from the U.S. Department of Labor on the Family and Medical Leave Act and COVID-19.

Paid Sick and Family Leave Enacted into Law in Response to Coronovirus (March 19, 2020) 

Guidance on the sick and family leave requirement in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act legislation, prepared by Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP.

Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA and Its Application to Virtual Learning (webinar, March 30, 2020) 

The Student Privacy Office of the U.S. Department of Education produced a webinar on the application of FERPA to online or virtual learning during the COVID-19 crisis.  

FERPA and COVID-19: FAQs from the U.S. Department of Education 

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) resource from the U.S. Education Department, Students Privacy Policy Office. 

Financial Aid to Students: Federal

Federal Student Loan Annual Acknowledgement Delayed  (March 27, 2020) 

The requirement that students with federal loans complete the Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement before the loan is disbursed is delayed until 2021. 

Student Loan Borrowers May Suspend Payments (March 20, 2020) 

The Education Department will allow federal student loan borrowers to suspend payments for at least 60 days without penalty.

Federal Work Study Payments Can Continue During Campus Closure 

Students performing Federal Work-Study (FWS) at a campus that must close due to COVID-19 can continue to be paid (even if not working) if the closure occurred after the beginning of the term.  

Effects of COVID-19 on Student Lending (Credible Webinar on 5/5/2020)

Room and Board Refunds and Financial Aid (from NAICU 3/18/2020) 

Q: Generally does U.S. Department of Education have in place a policy regarding the impact of Room & Board refunds on R2T4 and financial audits for the institution?  We are looking for clear direction on how refunds are to be processed and treated. Can credits be issued for subsequent semesters? It seems like there are multiple strains of guidance from various groups. 

A: The decision whether to give students refunds or adjustments is entirely up to each institution and beyond the Department’s purview. If an institution decides to make refunds or adjustments, no recalculation of a student’s aid for the current year is necessary. Credits applied against next year’s charges are permitted. However, any credits applied against charges for upcoming periods of enrollment will be considered Estimated Financial Aid (EFA).

Financial Aid to Students: Pennsylvania

PHEAA State Grant Program Guidance 

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has been monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on students as it relates to the PA State Grant Program.  The Agency has issued guidance for institutions on administering PHEAA grants during this outbreak.

Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA Regulations Now Allow Telehealth Services (March 19, 2020) 

During the COVID-19 national emergency, health care providers subject to the HIPAA Rules may communicate with patients, and provide telehealth services, through remote communication technologies that may not fully comply with the original requirements of the HIPAA Rules. 

Human Resources Issues 

Campus Police  Security Officers & COVID-19 Response (Johns Hopkins University)

Employee Legal Issues Related to COVID-19 (March 29, 2020)

Link to a resource guide on safety and legal issues for employers prepared by the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP.

FAQs on COVID-19 Issues for Employers

Link to questions and answers on employment issues prepared by Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act - What Employers Need to Know March 19, 2020

 This link highlights part of the legislation most applicable to the employer/employee relationship

COVID-19 and Employees (CUPA-HR)

This link provides access to a variety of human resource items related to COVID-19.  The link is managed by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

Information on Workplace Accommodations for COVID & the Americans with Disability Act (ADA)

This website provides strategies for employers covered by the ADA on dealing with communicable diseases such as COVID-19 in the workplace.

Legislation: COVID-19: Federal

Federal Legislation - Phase 1 Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Federal Legislation - Phase 2 Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act

Federal Legislation - Phase 3 Coronavirus Aid, Relied & Economic Security (CARES) Act

Employee Retention Credit - FAQ

On April 29, 2020, the IRS released additional FAQs on the ERC. In light of this new guidance, AICUP corporate affiliate BKD, compiled the top questions they have received on the ERC. 

Legislation: COVID-19: Pennsylvania

Update coming soon on bills being introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature relating to COVID-19. 

Licensing Regulations -Suspension for COVID-19

Suspended Licensing Regulations for Retired/Out-State Healthcare Professionals 

Due to COVID-19, additional health care practitioners will be needed to treat ill Pennsylvanians. This link details the licensure suspensions granted by the Governor and provides additional information for health care professionals on how to obtain temporary licenses.

Listing of States that have Waived Licensing Provisions for Out-State Professionals

This listing, prepared by the Association of American Medical Colleges, identifies states that have waived licensing requirements for out-of-state professionals that are utilizing telehealth/mental health methods to assist residents during the COVID-19 crisis.

State-by-State Guide to Regulations on Mental Health Services by Telehealth Across State Lines

Link to a spreadsheet prepared by the University of Texas at with information on regulations in each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia for marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers.

Loans & Grants for Higher Education for COVID-19 Response 

CARES Act FAQs on Employee Retention Credits & Payroll Tax Deferral

An overview of additional payroll-related relief in the CARES Act to employers struggling to meet payroll obligations amid the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application from the Small Business Administration (March 30, 2020)

Guidance & Resources on Disaster Loans from the Small Business Association 

Low-interest, long-term disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration may provide up to $2 million in assistance to nonprofits to continue operations. 

SBA Paycheck Protection Program for Institutions w/Under 500 Employees (NAICU - April 2, 2020) 

NAICU has issued a document outlining financial resources for institutions with under 500 employees who are experiencing financial difficulties because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Overview of Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program Guidelines for Institutions under 500

 This link provides an overview of the SBA Paycheck Protection Program guidelines for institutions with under 500 employees.

Chart Comparing SBA Loans for Non-Profits in the CARES Act (March 31, 2020) 

This chart, prepared by the National Council on Nonprofits, provides a summary of three loan programs for nonprofit organizations included in the recent CARES Act federal legislation. 

Coronavirus Upends Colleges' Financial State (Article, March 20, 2020) 

Uncertainty around colleges' financial futures may be at an all-time high. The one thing that's certain is that the weakest institutions are most likely to struggle. 

Federal Grants Administrative Relief under COVID-19 (March 9, 2020) 

Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Memo M-20-11), Office of Management and Budget.   

PA Emergency Declaration Approval by Federal Government

Reopening Campuses after COVID-19: State & Institutional Plans

Centre College Kentucky will adopt block-style classes Fall 2020

Claremont McKenna Fall 2020 Operational Plan

Connecticut Guidelines for Phased Reopening of Colleges & Universities (May 6, 2020)

State of Connecticut Guidelines for Phased Reopening of Colleges & Universities (May 6, 2020)
Recommendations developed by a State of Connecticut task force on reopening educational institutions (PDF, 18 pages).

Duke University Guide for Staff Returning to Campus

Indiana University Restart Committee Recommendations 

Kentucky Higher Education Guidelines for Reopening after COVID-19

University of Utah Operational Guidelines for Reopening Campus (May 2020)

Reopening Campuses after COVID-19: Considerations

Bring Pennsylvania Back: Business Readiness Webinar Series (May 26, 2020)

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry prepared 4 webinars on reopening strategies after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. The webinars cover human resources issues, cleaning and disinfecting, liability issues, and an overview of state guidance.

American College Health Association - Considerations for Reopening Institutions of Higher Education in the COVID-19 Era (May 7, 2020)

A recent report from the ACHA that offers general guidelines for colleges and universities to use when reopening their campus (PDF, 20 pages).

American College Health Association Emergency Planning Guidelines for Campus Health Services: An All-Hazards Approach (August 2017)

The guide is organized to walk readers through the spectrum of emergency preparedness, from planning to recovery, at both the institutional level and the departmental level. (PDF, 16 pages).

American College Health Association - Preparing for  COVID-19 (March 2020)

Broad guidelines to protect students, faculty, and staff so that each institution, small or large, can modify them based on existing campus and local resources. (PDF, 10 pages)

CDC Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education (May 21, 2020)

CDC Reopening Guidance for Cleaning & Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools & Homes

A report by the Centers for Disease Control on reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by cleaning and disinfection (PDF, 9 pages, April 28, 2020).

Chronicle of Higher Education - List of Colleges’ Plans for Reopening in the Fall (April 2020)

Considerations for Reopening for Institutes of Higher Education (May 19, 2020)

Decision-Making on Opening Campus after COVID-19 (April 17,2020)

Jump to time position 40:47 on this video to hear a discussion on  issues to consider when reopening your college campus after COVID-19.  The webinar is sponsored by the American College Health Association (ACHA)

Getting Back on Campus: COVID-19 Issues Facing Opening or Partial Opening of Educational Institutions (May 14, 2020 Webinar, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr)

Presentation Materials

Higher Ed Return to Campus Guide 

Created by Kuali, an AICUP Endorsed Program Provider of Business Continuity

Inside Higher Education

15 Possible Scenarios for a Fall Semester Under COVID-19

Institutional budgets with coronavirus in mind (Chronicle, April 20, 2020)

Practical Advice on Reopening Campuses (Inside Higher Ed, April 16, 2020)

National Collegiate Athletic Association - Core Principals of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport (April 2020)

National Association of College and University Business Officers

NACUBO has developed several short checklists to help college administrators streamline their planning and response efforts for COVID-19 and the fall 2020 semester. 

Occupational Safety & Health Administration - Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

U.S. Centers for Disease Control (revised March 2020)

Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Institutions of Higher Education (PDF, 10 pages) 

Teaching Online 

Faculty Playbook: Delivering High Quality Instruction Online in Response to COVID-19 (May 2020)

Copyright and Fair Use for Educational Institutions Amid COVID-19 (April 27, 2020) 

Remote learning raises important questions about how  materials purchased or licensed for traditional classrooms can be used in an online learning environment. For example, “Do licensing or copyright law restrictions apply to an institution’s use of these materials for distance learning?"(McKnees Wallace & Nurick LLC)

International Online Education Programs: A Global Regulatory Perspective (podcast, May 2020)

The COVID-19 crisis has prompted many colleges and universities to deliver courses online, across borders, to serve their international student community. This 30 minute audio briefing provides information on common international regulatory challenges in such programs. This includes issues such as foreign education regulation, tax, privacy, and internet connectivity, with a segment on China to illustrate these issues in action.

Online Teaching Toolkit from the Association of College and University Educators

This site provides resources in various topic areas for college instructors teaching remotely.

Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching & Online Learning (EDUCAUSE, March 27, 2020)

A discussion of moving from online courses offered in response to a crisis to well-planned online learning experiences.

Moving to a Culture of Accessibility for Disabled Students (2020, 60 minutes)

Colleges that are moving from classroom to online courses must ensure that the courses are accessible to students with disabilities. This video, produced by Wichita State University, discusses the difficulties faced by the University in trying to create a culture of accessibility  for students in both classroom and online courses. 

Unemployment Compensation 

Information for Pennsylvania Employees Impacted by COVID-19

A summary of unemployment benefits and worker’s compensation benefits that may be available to Pennsylvania workers because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Veterans & GI Bill Students 

Federal legislation restores GI Bill payments to student veterans whose classes transitioned to online due to COVID-19 (March 23, 2020)

A blog post from the Veterans Affairs Administration on federal legislation that changed the requirements for payments to colleges under the GI Bill.

Virtual Graduation Ceremonies 

An Overview of Creating a Virtual Graduation Event (video, February 27, 2020)

Staff of Purdue University Global developed a YouTube video that provides advice and outlines their planning for a virtual graduation ceremony

Voting in Pennsylvania

Voting in Pennsylvania by Mail

Students, faculty, and staff can participate in future primary and general elections in Pennsylvania by utilizing a mail-in ballot.

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