COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Update

The New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE) is paying careful attention to the COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) situation.  In recognition of the continuing circumstances that limit travel for Commission staff and evaluators, the status of Commission activities and reviews through the end of the calendar year is as follows:

SPRING 2020 on-site visits:  All comprehensive, focused, and substantive change implementation visits are being conducted virtually and will be reviewed by the Commission in Fall 2020.

FALL 2020 on-site visits:

  • All international substantive change visits have been postponed until Spring 2021.
  • All other comprehensive and focused evaluations will be conducted virtually.

FALL 2020 Commission Meetings (September 24-25; November 19-20) will be held virtually.  An additional Commission Meeting will be scheduled in January 2021.

SUMMER & FALL 2020 Workshops will all be conducted virtually.  This includes the Interim Report Workshop (July), Self-Study II Workshop (July), New CAO/ALO and the New CEO Orientations (August), Evaluator Workshop (September), and the Self-Study Workshop (October).

FALL 2020 COMMISSION STAFF VISITS:  Commission staff will continue to work with institutions virtually.  Starting August 1, a limited number of staff will be in the office on a rotating basis while others will continue to work from home.    

To support its virtual visits, the Commission adopted the following Policy on Virtual Visits and Guidance for In-Person Campus Visits as Part of a Virtual Visit that conform with regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Higher Education.

We refer you to the Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Higher Education’s newly established website, www.ed.gov/coronavirus, which provides guidance on a number of topics including approval to offer distance education, length of academic year, and accommodating students whose enrollment is disrupted by Coronavirus . Additional guidance for interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found here.

As the fall semester approaches, the Commission recognizes that institutions are continuing to make changes in the academic calendar and modes of delivery to help protect 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.

The American Council on Education (ACE) and the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) have compiled a set of resources for institutions and governing boards:
ACE Resources and Guidance for Institutions
Coronavirus Resources for Higher Education Governing Boards

Resources for offering programs online are available at:
Building a Community of Learning
Remote Teaching Resources for Business Continuity

Statement of Principles on Acceptance of Credit by American Council of Education and other higher education associations can be found here

COVID-19 Timeline:

On March 20, the Commission contacted each member of the New England Congressional delegation urging financial support for our region’s colleges and universities. Please click here to read the letter.

On March 25, President Barbara Brittingham sent a letter on behalf of the Commission to institutional CEOs and others.  Please click here to read the letter.

On April 21, C-RAC, the Council of Regional Accrediting Agencies sent a letter to Secretary DeVos urging flexibility with respect to distance education for the 2020-2021 academic year.  Please click here to read the letter.

On April 28, the Massachusetts Attorney General released “Guidance on Endowments for Charities Facing Financial Challenges Due to COVID-19.”  Please click here to read it.

On May 15, the US Department of Education issued UPDATED Guidance for interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (COVID-19), including the offering of programs through distance education.  The guidance can be found here.

At its July meeting, the Commission approved a streamlined process for institutions seeking general approval to offer distance/remote education programming.  This process is outlined here.

If you have any questions, please contact Lawrence Schall at lschall@neche.org.

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