UPDATED Guidance for interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) (May 15, 2020):
The Department appreciates that postsecondary institutions and their students face continued challenges resulting from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. This guidance provides updated information that expands upon the Department’s March 5, 2020 and April 3, 2020 guidance. Here, we provide additional regulatory flexibilities due to the President’s declaration of a national emergency due to COVID-19 and provide information about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Pub. L. No. 116-136, signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020. We will provide additional guidance on our COVID-19 webpage as needed.
We are aware of the need for institutions to plan how they will offer instruction for upcoming periods of enrollment. Many institutions have informed us of their intent to offer both the summer and fall terms using distance education. To provide the necessary flexibility for institutions to make timely decisions, we are expanding the broad approval for the use of distance education as provided in the April 3, 2020, EA to include payment periods that overlap March 5, 2020, or that begin on or between March 5, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
Accrediting agency virtual evaluation visits
We are extending through December 31, 2020, the flexibilities provided in the March 17, 2020, guidance permitting accrediting agencies to conduct virtual site visits. We remind accrediting agencies that an on-site visit must follow a virtual site visit, in a timeframe that is reasonably practicable, and may be performed by staff or a trained site visitor and need not repeat the full review. A focused site-visit to confirm the presence of facilities viewed during the virtual site visit and, if required by the accrediting agency, the opportunity to randomly select students to interview as part of the normal site visit process, is sufficient to meet the Department’s requirements for an on-site visit following a full virtual site visit.
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