Other Higher Education Issues
COVID-19 Guidance Weblinks - Institutional (formerly regional) Accreditors
Institutional (formerly regional) Accreditors have provided the following guidance (note that is is changing regularly):
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC WASC): See the list of resource provided on the COVID-19 Information/Updates for ACCJC Institutions Specifically review the March 16, 2020 notice to institutions: RESPONSE REQUIRED: ACCJC Deadline Modifications and Support in Response to COVID-19. All member institutions that expand Distance Education offerings in response to the COVID-19 outbreak must notify ACCJC of this transition no later than May 8, 2020. This notification requirement applies to all institutions, regardless of whether or not they have previously been approved to offer Distance Education courses and programs by ACCJC. Institutions who have not previously received a substantive change approval from ACCJC to offer distance education must also document how regular and effective interaction between instructors and students will be demonstrated. ACCJC will accept an email list of courses converted to distance education or correspondence education as adequate notification. Accreditation Liaison Officers should send their institution’s notification via email to email@example.com.
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC): HLC has shared a information on their website under Coronavirus Updates (also accessible through the link at the top of their home page). Note this section: “Notify HLC of Changes to Educational Offerings,” including requesting a temporary distance education waiver.
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE): Please review the MSCHE RESPONSE TO COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) resources webpage. Institutions should review the March 17th webcast to its members for instructions. The webcast transcript is available here.
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE): Please review the COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Update webpage. NECHE is currently handling any waivers of distance education requirements on a case-by-case basis. "We recognize that institutions are making changes in the academic calendar and modes of delivery to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff while ensuring the best possible academic experience possible in these circumstances, in light of the Commission’s Standards and policies and federal guidance. We appreciate hearing from institutions about these accommodations."
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU): Please review: Update: NWCCU Information Regarding COVID-19 Responses. The responses include a March 10, 2020 letter with direction to communicate with NWCCU about shifts to online courses or cancellations of classes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC): Please review the Coronavirus and the Commission webpage of resources, Per a March 13, 2020 letter to its members, SACSCOC instructed institutions if "not approved to offer 50% or more of any approved program by distance learning (i.e., online), you must request an exception to the policy and a notification of temporary emergency relocation of instruction. If you have already sent a request for a waiver, please disregard the information below; a separate response will be sent to your waiver request. If you have not done so, please submit a request for the relocation notice and exception to policy to Dr. Belle Wheelan, SACSCOC President, at email@example.com. A brief request is sufficient. (Example: To accommodate the temporary emergency relocation of instruction, we are requesting an exception to policy requiring institutional approval for distance learning. The exception is for the sole purpose of temporarily accommodating displaced students.) Include in your request the original relocation date and the estimated date instruction will return. If your institution is already approved for distance learning, email a copy of the approval letter to Dr. Kevin Sightler, Director of Substantive Change (firstname.lastname@example.org), so your institution’s record can be updated; once you receive a confirmation response, you do not need to request an exception to the policy. The March 23, 2020 Coronavirus Update addresses rescheduling of committee activities and the following statement: "We have implemented the processes outlined by the U.S. Department of Education and granted waivers to 75 institutions that had not previously been approved to offer distance learning. Practically all of our member institutions have notified us that they have moved their instruction on‐line and made changes to their academic calendar. We are working to publish this information in accordance with the Department’s requirement."
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC): Per an update posted to its website, WSCUC writes that institutions "are in the best position to make accommodations so that students and employees can be as safe as possible" and "leaves these important decision to individual campuses, believing that each will adhere to its learning objectives/goals as they can reasonably be achieved in the climate in which you are operating." The statement also refers members back to the Department of Education's March 5, 2020 announcement. A March 13, 2020 notice indicates the following, “Institutions that are implementing distance learning for the purpose of completing the current term to navigate campus closures due to COVID-19 are not initiating distance education programs, according to WSCUC definitions. They are thus not required to seek approval or notify the agency.”
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