COVID-19 is a pandemic that has basically brought this country and others around the world to a halt. Don’t panic if you have had to close your doors, there are things that you can do to survive.
On March 5, 2020, ED sent out an electronic notice, giving guidance regarding school interruptions related to the virus and under certain circumstances allowing accreditors and institutions an opportunity to provide education temporarily through distance education (DE). Since then the President has declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and restricted gatherings of more than 10 people. States have forced school facility closures to reduce the spread of the disease. For more information go to the March 5, Electronic Announcement and the dedicated web page on COVID-19. https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus?src=feature .
What is FAME doing to assist schools during this crisis:
- FAME is offering a free hotline, maintained by trained staff to answer your questions based on the most current information available to us. Please call FAME customer support to get immediate assistance 800-327-5772 option 1
- There is no charge for questions regarding COVID-19, we are here to support you.
- We have partnered with Online Testing Group (OTG) who is offering free on-line testing services for your students through June. https://www.onlinetestinggroup.com
- We have also partnered with dialogEDU, an LMS application, providing expedited on-line platform and services for online training, grades and attendance. https://dialogedu.com
- Due to the need to cancel our annual conference, we will be offering important sessions online in the weeks ahead.
- FAME understands the financial burden of the school closure and loss of revenue and will work with you during this period. If you have financial issues, please contact Kathy Cahill at AR@fameinc.com .
- If FAME is your Third Party Servicer, send us your approvals for temporary Distance Education (DE) programs, so that we can continue to draw down funds. Send them to Nancy McCallum at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Watch for email updates from FAME and postings on our website regarding regulatory changes, enhanced communication methods and Community Outreach COVID-19 webinars hosted by FAME.
The state and federal government mandated that school facilities be closed until future notice. How do I get approval to temporarily offer my programs via Distance Education (DE)?
- Notify the state approval agency that you have temporarily closed your school facilities because of a state mandate and wish to deliver your program(s) via DE temporarily.
- Once the state approval is in place, complete the request to provide temporary DE classes via the proper forms with your accrediting agency and also provide them with the state approval. (They all have posted something on their websites regarding temporary DE approval).
- Notify your Eligibility contact at ED of TEMPORARY SCHOOL FACILITY CLOSURE, and intent to deliver program(s) via DE.
- So far, some applications have been rejected or denied by the accrediting agency because the total number of hours/credits allowed per week or per program is limited, for example no more than 10-15 hours per week can be offered as DE.
- When completing the request for temporarily providing the program via DE, make sure that the total hours or credits in the program and state requirements combined equal the total requirements for the program. Do not complete the form indicating that all of it will be taught as DE or it will reject and delay your process.
Do I need ED approval prior to offering a temporary DE program?
No, you may proceed as long as the state and accrediting agency approvals are in place. It doesn’t hurt to notify ED that you are offering the temporary DE program.
Do I have to notify ED of the school facility closure?
You are required to notify ED of any change within 10 days. Although ED has given some flexibility, this crisis does not supersede regulatory requirements of notifications.
Important: Make sure that you notify ED that this is a mandated temporary facility closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that you plan to offer your programs by DE and will reopen your facilities as soon as it is safe for your staff and students to do so. It is important that ED has names and contact information, other than school numbers, so that they can stay in touch with them.
Can students still be paid Title IV funds during the time when school facilities are closed?
Yes, as long as they are taking approved eligible DE program(s) on line.
What happens if one or more of my students don’t want to attend an online program?
Any student that doesn’t want to attend an on-line program can be placed on an LOA until classrooms are available. If the student is well, and doesn’t resume the program when available, they will be dropped, based on LDA, and an R2T4 calculated.
What if my students are now attending less than full time?
The normal disbursement rules apply.
What type of delivery can be used for temporary DE programs?
ED is being very flexible, and so are most accrediting agencies. ED is even allowing email of materials, with chats, but remember the requirement for substantive communication between the instructor and the student is still a requirement and must be documented.
Make use of available web conferencing/webinar facilities such as: Google Hangouts, Go to Meeting, WebEx, Ring Central, Zoom or any other method to deliver training.
Also make sure that you follow accrediting and state requirements.
Make sure you keep very good records of the date you closed, the date that you received approvals from your accrediting agency and the state, and exactly how the program was offered under DE, interaction with instructor, etc. The auditor and ED will need this information later.
Monday, March 23, 2020 – FAME Community Forum – COVID-19
Panelists Tom Netting, CEO of Ten Government Strategies, Tony Mirando, Executive Director of NACCAS, Gregg Meiklejohn, Co-founder of Enrollment Resources, and Sally Samuels, Director of Compliance, discussed state and accreditation requirements to gain temporary approval for providing course work online, communication methods for keeping students engaged, and ongoing methods to continue to enroll new students online.
Additional Resources for Higher Education Institutions:
- New! The Department’s Latest Guidance on the CARES Act
- New! Legislative text and congressional summaries
- Final Legislative Text – Division A is everything but appropriations, and Division B is the appropriations language
- Section by section description of Division A
- One-pager on HELP Committee provisions- from Majority Committee staff
- Two Summaries of the appropriations section (Division B) – from the Senate Appropriations Committee Majority and Minority staffs.
- COVID-19 Community Forum Q & A
- Capitol Hill Inches Closer and Closer to Passage of “Phase Three” COVID-19 Stimulus Package
- Summary of Revised “CARES” Act Released by Majority Leader McConnell on Sunday, March 22, 2020
- The Office of Postsecondary Education issued Information for Accrediting Agencies Regarding Temporary Flexibilities Provided to Coronavirus Impacted Institutions or Accrediting Agencies (March 17, 2020)
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued guidance on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Potential Procedural Adaptations for F and M Nonimmigrant Students (March 9, 2020)
- The Office of Postsecondary Education issued Guidance for interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) (March 5, 2020)
- The CDC issued Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (March 2, 2020)
- Federal Student Aid issued Coronavirus Information for Students, Borrowers, and Parents