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Parents in Florida who had signed up for Prepaid Plans to save for college will get some extra time before starting monthly payments.
The Florida Prepaid College Board announced today that it is deferring payments until July to help families through the economic and global health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus, according to a news release.
Prepaid plans let parents start saving for a child's college education while also locking in future costs. Plans start at $44 per month for newborns, which is the lowest minimum amount in five years.
New customers who buy a plan during what's left of the open enrollment period will have the $50 application fee waived. Their payments won't start until July.
Current customers will have their April, May and June payments deferred, unless they choose to continue payments. Payment scheduled will be extended by three months.
“As uncertain as these times are, we encourage Florida families to take comfort in knowing that Prepaid College Plans offer certainty and security for your college savings,” Kevin Thompson, executive director of Florida Prepaid, said in the news release. “All Prepaid College Plans are guaranteed by the State of Florida, ensuring families can never lose their investment.”
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University presidents and athletic administrators are among those who have begun taking pay cuts amid the pandemic and recession.
Michael Schill, president of the University of Oregon, on Friday announced a temporary reduction of 12 percent to his pay, The Register-Guard reported. The university's vice presidents and athletic director will have their pay cut by 10 percent. The reductions will be in place for six months but may be extended.
“We are almost certainly all going to have to make sacrifices,” Schill said.
Athletic department coaches and other staff members at Iowa State University collectively will take $3 million in pay reductions, according to the Des Moines Register. The pay cuts are due in part to lost revenue from canceled basketball tournaments, Iowa State said.
The provost and president at Stanford University will take 20 percent pay cuts, according to Palo Alto's The Daily Post. Other senior administrators at Stanford will see their pay slashed by 5 to 10 percent.
Andrew Rosen, the chairman of Kaplan Inc., which partners with Purdue University on the online Purdue University Global, has elected to take a 50 percent pay cut, Kaplan's holding company said in a corporate filing.
Carol Folt, who became the University of Southern California's president last year, will take a 20 percent cut, the Los Angeles Times reported. Just before the pandemic hit, the university closed on its purchase of an $8.6 million presidential residence for Folt in Santa Monica.Editorial Tags: CoronavirusLive UpdatesPresidentsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
"The absenteeism of professors is not a new issue," said Chuck Staben, former president of the University of Idaho and current professor there. "What is a new issue is the scale of what we're potentially facing."
In the face of rising coronavirus cases, the scale of professor absenteeism could be much larger than anything colleges have seen in recent decades.
The devil's arithmetic isn't hard to follow. Some models have predicted over 40 percent of the American public will get COVID-19. Nineteen percent of cases need to be hospitalized, and 6 percent need intensive care. The White House predicts now 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, at best, from the new coronavirus. At least four prominent faculty members already have passed away.
Some academic leaders have begun to ask how to prepare for what seems increasingly inevitable. What happens if professors, on a never-before-seen scale, get too sick to teach? What happens if they die?
Last week Feng Sheng Hu, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, sent a memo to faculty members in his college.
"In the coming weeks, it is likely that more cases will emerge in our campus community and our college," Hu said. "For [students'] benefit, it is important that we do everything we can to maintain course continuity now that instruction has moved online for the rest of the semester. With that in mind, we ask you to make contingency plans for how your classes will continue, should you become unavailable to teach for any reason."
Hu suggested arranging for a colleague to step in or planning alternative activities.
After English professor Curtis Perry tweeted about getting the memo, other faculty from institutions in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand chimed in that they had received similar letters, or had sent them out to their teams.
Perry and many others bristled at the requests, both at their euphemistic language along with the idea that professors facing death should be responsible for keeping business running.
"You get an A! And you get an A!" someone joked in the replies.
"I'm dead," another said. "My contract has for sure ended."
Perry clarified that regardless of the tone of the request, he objected to the idea that he could even complete it.
"It is of course reasonable to be concerned about the illness or death of faculty -- I'm just not sure it makes sense to ask faculty themselves to take the lead in setting up contingencies without providing guidelines concerning budgetary support," he said via email. "Am I supposed to ask a grad student to add my class to their portfolio without compensation?"
Even disregarding budgetary concerns, it may be impossible to find instructors who can step in for niche or upper-level courses.
The University of Illinois emphasized that considering the impact of illness is a normal part of business.
"Contingencies for replacement instruction are a standard consideration in our academic operations during a normal semester where face-to-face instruction accounts for the majority of our course delivery," said a university spokesperson via email. "But we realize that some of our standard practices for replacement instruction may not translate when faculty and students are not physically in the same place."
Hu said he was simply asking everyone to do their best in difficult circumstances. "There are various reasons that an instructor may not be able to teach, including an illness and family obligations," he said via email. "We are not telling instructors what specific contingency plans they should make. We want them to do whatever they feel is best for their students and their courses."
Staben, who now teaches biology, cited a few potential options for how to proceed when a professor can't teach, though none are ideal.
There's the substitute model, the class could be frozen or suspended, or students could be given an "instructor incomplete" similar to the incomplete grade they would receive if students were unable to finish a course.
But freezing a course or giving an instructor incomplete may run afoul of current financial aid rules, Staben said. A substitute model could put an incredible burden on a few people in a small department. One other option would be to move a class to asynchronous instruction, but few professors have those resources lined up.
Staben said most institutions are unprepared for a potential crisis, pointing out that while the best continuity of operations plan he's seen, from the University of Washington, asks planners to prepare for staff absenteeism of 25 percent, the college's public academic continuity plan doesn't make the same consideration for faculty.
"If the University of Washington has 10 plumbers and they need to make sure that the plumbing system stays in operation, then the eight plumbers who are left can do that," he said. "But not necessarily in the nuclear physics department."
John Lombardi, former leader at several universities and the author of How Universities Work, said that whether this planning is really necessary still remains to be seen.
"Probably useful to think about this, but probably not useful to construct complicated alternative contingencies covering every imaginable sequence of illness, whether related to the virus or not," he said via email. "Unless we imagine a massive collapse of the university workforce, it's likely best to try and deal with these issues within the context of normal sick leave, normal reallocation of work and similar adjustments."
Higher ed would do well, he said, to spend its time on the problems it's already facing.
Staben said he personally is unprepared for his class to go on without him. Regardless, he feels this is an issue faculty need to grapple with.
"We're responsible for the quality of educational outcomes. We're responsible for the curriculum. We should want to be engaged in ensuring successful completion of that curriculum," he said. "It's not about grades so much as what those students were supposed to learn."
One thing is for certain. At some institutions, the plans are being laid. One can only hope they'll never be needed.Editorial Tags: CoronavirusImage Source: Istockphoto.com/mihalecIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
It’s been nearly a month since colleges began to close their residence halls in response to the new coronavirus outbreak, but many are still figuring out exactly how to address room and board refunds.
Some colleges, such as Smith College, Harvard University and Amherst College, announced almost immediately that students would receive prorated room and board refunds. Many others have come up with partial refund plans in the following weeks, which have been met with praise by some students and with lawsuits and petitions by others.
Refund decisions are ever changing. This was apparent at the University of Minnesota Board of Regents meeting Friday, when the board voted 8 to 4 to approve a new student fee refund plan.
Previously, the university system had offered a $1,200 room and board credit for students on the Twin Cities campus and a $1,000 credit for students on all other UM campuses. This plan would have cost the university system $12.6 million in lost revenue.
The new plan, created in light of Minnesota governor Tim Walz’s stay-at-home declaration issued March 25, would provide prorated refunds for students on all six University of Minnesota campuses for room and board fees, student activities fees, and parking fees, if applicable. The new plan would cost the university system $27.8 million, more than double the original plan.
That’s a significant figure, even for a state system like the University of Minnesota, according to Craig Goebel, principal at Art & Science Group. He pointed to a recent report that the University of Wisconsin system is estimating a $100 million loss due to the coronavirus outbreak. The entire UW system expects to spend $78 million on room and board refunds. Elsewhere, Clemson University announced it faces a $20 million loss, $15 million of which will be for refunds. The University of Maine system has processed $12.8 million in room and board refunds as of March 31.
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents vote follows a petition calling on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities administration to increase refunds to students from the initial $1,200 to “at least $2,500.” It has gathered more than 500 signatures.
“The University of Minnesota instructed students to stay home after spring break due to this pandemic but isn’t compensating students the right amount for their losses,” the petition reads. "This petition is aimed to push administration to give students their rightful compensation of at least 2500 dollars."
The plan approved Friday would refund the “most common” student -- meaning a student who chose the most common options for housing, dining plans and the like -- $2,364, according to Julie Tonneson, senior vice president of finance and operations at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Actual refund amounts will vary by student.
Students in Arizona have also been leaning on their universities to pay them back for services not rendered -- but instead of just petitions, they took the universities to court.
Students have filed a class action lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents in an attempt to receive prorated room and board and student fees refunds from three universities -- University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University -- after they moved classes online.
The sued for breach of contract -- a common class action claim, according to Kent Schmidt, a lawyer at international law firm Dorsey & Whitney who is keeping a running blog of coronavirus-related class action suits.
“[Arizona Board of Regents]’s performance under the contracts is not excused because of COVID-19 and the housing agreements provide no such terms excusing performance given nationwide pandemics,” the complaint reads.
The University of Arizona is offering students a choice between a 10 percent refund at the end of the semester and a 20 percent credit to be added to their account next year. Arizona State University will offer a $1,500 nonrefundable credit. Northern Arizona University announced Friday it would offer a 25 percent credit. But the students say it’s not enough.
“The students’ claim is pretty sympathetic. This is not an insignificant part of the money you pay to go to college,” Schmidt said.
The lawyer went on to explain the situation many colleges find themselves in.
"The problem is that a significant part of that money also goes to pay salaries of the people there working in the cafeterias and people that are doing various other jobs relating to the room and board," he said. "The question becomes: Is the university caught in the middle? Do they have to refund the money to the students, or are they under pressure to keep paying the employees?"Editorial Tags: CoronavirusStudent lifeImage Source: Istockphoto.com/clsgraphicsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Arizona State University-Downtown PhoenixClemson UniversityNorthern Arizona UniversityUniversity of ArizonaUniversity of MaineUniversity of Minnesota-Twin CitiesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonDisplay Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
In the quick shift by colleges from in-person to online instruction in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the needs of students with disabilities can sometimes be overlooked.
Students who are deaf or hard of hearing, have low vision or are blind, those with learning disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or a physical disability that requires use of a computer keyboard instead of a mouse, students with mental illnesses or various other challenges, have been put on the backburner “en masse,” as instructors scramble to transfer two months' worth of teaching content to a digital format, said Cyndi Wiley, digital accessibility coordinator for Iowa State University’s Information Technology Services.
Wiley said although some faculty members may have discussed digital accessibility in the past, they might not be aware of the importance of ensuring it for all students and may not understand that it goes beyond making special accommodations for individual students that specifically request it. Some faculty members might just be overwhelmed by the pressure to rapidly convert to online classes and overlook accessibility, Wiley said. She said institutions can and should "do better" by making investments in software that continuously provides alternative, accessible material formats for students with any disabilities.
“I would love to live in a world where we didn’t have to make accommodations because all our materials are just accessible,” Wiley said. “If we are not at an enterprise level looking at those resources and creating budget lines, we’re at the situation we’re in now. We have some how-to resources and tips, but faculty are running all over the place and trying to keep up with students.”
The National Foundation for the Blind has been contacted by college students facing problems after complete shifts to remote learning by their respective institutions, said Chris Danielsen, director of public relations for the foundation. The primary issue for blind students is learning materials not being compatible with screen readers, which read and navigate course documents and sometimes transcribe them into Braille, he said.
“What we worry about now is that in the rush to move everything online in light of COVID-19, universities are paying even less attention to whether it’s accessible or not,” Danielsen said.
Tiffany Anderson, a blind student in her final semester at Johnston Community College in Smithfield, N.C., said the move to online learning has slowed her down. When her Spanish conversation class was in person, Anderson could listen to readings and follow along, but a digital textbook for the course is not available in an online format compatible with her screen reader, and her professor has been relying on that textbook more for assignments, she said.
“It’s stressful, because you feel like you’re falling behind,” Anderson said.
Wiley said students who are dyslexic, on the autism spectrum or who have a learning disability that requires text be read to them can also run into problems when screen readers process documents that are images instead of text. Images also cannot be navigated by students with physical disabilities who only use computer keyboards, not mouses, to go through documents, she said.
Deaf and hard-of-hearing students may also face new challenges, said Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf.
Live teaching formats over the internet may not provide them with American Sign Language interpreters or real-time captioning -- transcriptions of speech produced by a person, not computer-generated -- they may have had in in-person classes. If students had these services provided in the classroom, they should be duplicated for remote learning, Rosenblum said in an email. Colleges should not look to automated speech recognition, or ASR, software for live video formats, such as what is provided as a default for the Zoom, WebEx and Google Hangout conferencing platforms, he said.
“Such captioning is generally subpar and would be a disservice to those who rely on accurate captioning to understand and follow their college classes,” Rosenblum said. “We challenge any claim of accuracy measurements of ASR given that there is absolutely no valid metric to assess the accuracy of captioning at this time.”
Captioning accuracy declines when the speaker's native language is not English or if they have a speech impediment, when live video has background noise or complex terminology or bad internet connections, Rosenblum said. Wiley estimated that the ASR used in videoconferencing platforms is 85 to 90 percent accurate, when the aim should be 99 percent accuracy. The best-case scenario would be for colleges to have a human remote live captioner, but academic departments often don’t have the budget to pay for such services, especially now with the financial impact of making major adjustments in response to the public health crisis, Wiley said.
The pandemic is forcing institutions “to confront who is expendable,” said Mary Vargas, a partner at the firm Stein & Vargas LLP, who focuses on disability discrimination and is a former attorney with the NAD. Accessibility issues occurring now will impact the deaf community later, as deaf and hard-of-hearing students studying health care or medicine will become critical providers who can communicate effectively with other deaf and hard-of-hearing people, she said.
“For students in that field to be locked out of education is just devastating,” Vargas said. “It’s devastating to their career path and devastating to the rest of us who need immediate health-care access.”
People who have not paid attention to accessibility are now being forced to in the middle of a crisis, said Lainey Feingold, a disability rights attorney who works on digital accessibility. From a legal standpoint, the technology should always be usable for every student, and accommodations are required by law, unless it’s an “undue burden,” she said. But providing an equal education to students with disabilities should be more than just a “checklist” to ensure institutions are compliant with federal requirements, Feingold said.
Accessibility should be a “state of mind,” and that has not historically been the case in higher education, said Marion Quirici, a disability studies professor at Duke University who advises the Duke Disability Alliance, a student group that advocates for visibility and accessibility for students with disabilities. Quirici is concerned not only for the students who have disclosed disabilities previously to their professors, or who have very apparent physical disabilities, but those who have not asked for accommodations, especially for unpredictable learning or mental health disabilities, she said.
“Accommodation is first -- you have to prove you have a disability,” Quirici said. “You go through this process of documentation, then decide which accommodation would help you get through this course … The students who are struggling the most are students whose disabilities are not already on the books.”
The move to remote learning has been particularly difficult for Sydney Aquilina, a Duke student who has ADHD and is a member of the DDA. Attending classes remotely while living in a household with seven others is challenging, she said in an email. It’s hard to find quiet space to be productive.
“Not being in-person in and of itself makes it harder to concentrate, and I feel less free to ask the questions that my mind will get hung up on, which makes it even more difficult to focus on what I’m supposed to,” Aquilina said. “Conversation helps me organize and process my thoughts, so the reduction of social interaction makes it more difficult for me to articulate my thoughts and ideas on assignments.”
Online learning, when done in an accessible way, can be better for some students with disabilities, such as those who struggle to navigate campus because they have a physical disability, Quirici said. What the coronavirus pandemic has revealed, though, is that requests by students with disabilities to learn remotely in the past -- which were sometimes rejected at many universities -- are suddenly possible on a broad scale, Quirici said.
This is the “irony of this current crisis,” Deanna Ferrante, a December graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, wrote in an article about the pandemic. Ferrante founded the Alliance Against Ableism at UMass Amherst and said she has a learning disability that affects her reading comprehension and memory.
“In the past, students who need class content to be moved online have faced opposition from administration claiming that the transition would be too expensive, take too much time, and require too much extra training for educators,” Ferrante wrote. “It is painful to me and many others in the disability community that as soon as non-disabled people require the use of online classes to complete their education, the whole world scrambles to get everything running in a mere week.”
Sometimes there’s a reluctance from educators to provide accommodations because they're skeptical of a legitimate need that is not obviously visible, when the attitude should be “flexibility and understanding,” Quirici said. There is a lesson to learn from people with disabilities who are “coming forward as leaders during this transition” and speaking about inequities that persist in higher education, not just online, but in person, Quirici said.
“That flexibility and approachability should be built into our mission as teachers,” she said. “I hope that one silver lining of this catastrophe is that this is all possible and it can be incorporated into face-to-face environments.”
Ferrante said accessibility should not be framed as "guidelines" or "suggestions" for instructors but as a top-down mandate from university administrators.
"It’s very disheartening that now all of this immediacy is in place because of something’s that’s bigger than all of us," Ferrante said. "Maybe it will show universities and administrators the importance of this."Online and Blended LearningEditorial Tags: CoronavirusDisabilitiesImage Source: Istockphoto.com/skynesherIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
What day is it again? That’s right, Monday!
As you gear up for another workweek from home, why not consider whipping up some tasty Dalgona coffee?
This chilled beverage went viral (not that kind) last week and is super simple to make. All you need is a whisk and some coffee, sugar and milk.
Give it a try and sip as you skim the rest of this newsletter. We’ll wait.
Here’s the tea on what’s in the news.
The National Governors Association wrote to the U.S. Department of Education on Friday, asking the department to distribute the $30 billion in education funds from the federal stimulus bill as quickly as possible and with few restrictions on how the money should be spent. Higher education institutions are slated to receive $14 billion.
Fearing a loss of liquidity, the University of Alabama system secured $250 million in credit from two banks last week. Other institutions likely will try to follow suit, as reports rise of institutions facing vast financial losses. In Texas, for example, plummeting oil prices are projected to cost public university systems at least $300 million.
A survey conducted by the American Association for Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers reveals 81 percent of institutions have moved instruction entirely online. Many institutions are giving students the option of changing their courses to pass/fail grading.
The shift to remote instruction has resulted in a surge in learning management system and synchronous video tool usage, consultant Phil Hill writes in his blog, Phil on Ed Tech. Hill predicts many instructors will shift toward asynchronous instruction as they start to realize the limitations of live videoconferencing.
In related news, reports of Zoombombing incidents picked up pace last week. A petition to prevent racially motivated cyberattacks on Zoom gained more than 30,000 signatures, and the FBI advised victims of videoconference hijacking to report it as a cybercrime. Zoom’s CEO published an apology in response to a string of articles criticizing the safety and security of the platform.
A quick roundup of the latest stories from Inside Higher Ed:
When the State Department suspended Fulbright grants last month, many recipients returned to the U.S. with no jobs, housing or health insurance, writes Elizabeth Redden.
Kery Murakami reports that free college proposals floated by presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden could be scaled back as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And Madeline St. Amour takes a deep dive into how faculty are adapting to serve a shifting student population, and what college leaders can do to support them.
What we’re reading elsewhere:
College classes delivered through videoconference calls are giving many students a glimpse into each other’s homes for the first time, highlighting stark inequalities, The New York Times reports.
Juggling academic life and potty training a toddler has been hit and miss (literally) for this academic couple, who wrote about their working-from-home experience for Times Higher Education.
Being a teenager is hard. Being a teenager during a pandemic is harder, writes Julia Finke, a high school senior from Virginia, for The Hechinger Report.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that everyone cover their face when heading outside. There are a plethora of videos describing how to make your own protective gear. But if you don't want to go the DIY route, CQ reports that you can buy ornamental face masks from cool streetwear brands for just a few hundred dollars! Safety, but make it fashion.
In more dystopian news, politicians and scientists in Italy are discussing whether coronavirus antibody testing could be used to determine who should return to work and who should stay at home now that new COVID-19 cases in the country have plateaued.
“Most of us are wondering when life will get back to normal but normal is what brought us to such a precarious place,” writes Gay. “Nothing should ever be the same again and while that is an unnerving prospect, it may also be our saving grace.”
Feel free to tell us what you’re discussing at the virtual water cooler in the comments below.
We'll keep bringing you the news you need during this turbulent time. Send us your questions and story ideas. We'll get through this together.Editorial Tags: CoronavirusImage Source: Istockphoto.com/FPMIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
American Medical Association Releases Guidance on Medical Student Participation in COVID-19 Response
Medical students across the country, at institutions like Harvard University, New York University and the University of Kansas, are being permitted to graduate early to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Other students may be asked to help in patient care as part of their studies. The American Medical Association has now released guidance for medical schools and health systems on the involvement of medical students and early graduates.
"There are many opportunities for students to contribute to the clinical care of patients without engaging in direct physical contact with patients," an introduction to the guidance reads. "However, in some institutions the workforce demands may be great enough that it is appropriate to consider including medical students in direct patient care."
Among other recommendations, the AMA advises institutions to allow students to freely choose whether they would like to be involved in direct patient care, without incentives or coercion. Medical students should be given proper personal protective equipment and training on how to use it. Medical students should not be financially responsible for their own diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 should they become sick from school-approved activities, the association said.
For institutions with early graduation options for medical students to aid in the pandemic, the association stresses that the option should be enacted on a voluntary basis and be founded on achievement of core competencies. Institutions should not compel students to begin their matched residencies earlier than originally intended and should grant graduates full status as employees with appropriate salaries and benefits, the organization advised.Editorial Tags: CoronavirusLive UpdatesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
The National Governors Association wrote to Betsy DeVos, the U.S. secretary of education, to ask for the Education Department to within two weeks distribute the $30 billion of education stabilization funds in the $2.2 trillion federal stimulus, of which $14 billion is allocated to higher education.
The Education Department should grant “maximum flexibility” to states for how to use the money, wrote Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas and chair of NGA’s Education and Workforce Committee, and Jay Inslee, the Democratic governor of Washington and vice chair of the committee.
“States need time to establish both structures to evaluate student needs and processes to rapidly deploy these funds,” they said. “That work cannot begin until the department provides guidance about how and when it will send funding to the states. We urge the department to act quickly to distribute these funds.”
Specifically, the letter called for the department to allow flexibility to reimburse costs already incurred during the COVID-19 crisis by states, local governments and higher education entities.
In addition, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released estimates of the amounts of education stimulus each state will receive. The funding will vary widely, the group said, in part due to the share of Title I and Pell Grant students that attend institutions in each state.
For the $14 billion for higher education, the group said:
“Some 90 percent of this amount will be distributed directly to public and private colleges and universities based primarily on their share of Pell Grant recipients. Another 7.5 percent will go to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other institutions primarily serving students of color. The Secretary of Education will distribute the remaining 2.5 percent to those institutions the secretary determines have been particularly harmed by the virus and economic downturn.”Editorial Tags: CoronavirusLive UpdatesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
The University of Alabama System is moving to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in credit lines as a financial backstop against issues caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Executive Committee of the system’s Bord of Trustees approved securing $250 million in credit from two banks, Al.com reported.
“The resolutions passed today by the Board of Trustees Executive Committee give our System the capacity to provide an additional $250 million in liquidity if it were to be needed at any future point,” a system spokesperson told Al.com. “We consider this to be a form of insurance to assist our campuses and the UAB Health System as we respond to the COVID-19 crisis.”Editorial Tags: CoronavirusLive UpdatesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
The College Board will offer at-home test taking for its 2020 Advanced Placement exams, beginning on May 11.
Students will be able to take the open-note exams on any device. They will be able to type or write and upload answers to one or two free-response questions for most exams, the College Board said in an email to AP instructors on Friday. Students worldwide will take each subject’s exam at the same time, and most will have 45 minutes to complete them, the email said.
Scoring will continue to be on a scale of 1 to 5, and students cannot earn points for “content that can be found in textbooks or online,” the email said. The College Board is “confident that the vast majority of higher ed institutions will award college credit as they have in the past” and said the at-home test taking has support from hundreds of colleges.
“We want to give every student the chance to earn the college credit they’ve worked toward throughout the year,” Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and Instruction for the College Board, said in a statement. That’s why we quickly set up a process that’s simple, secure, and accessible.”Editorial Tags: CoronavirusLive UpdatesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
The American Immigration Lawyers Association filed suit against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today seeking the immediate suspension of immigration benefit deadlines and the maintenance of status for individuals on nonimmigrant visas, a group that includes students and exchange scholars and foreign healthcare workers with temporary visas.
“This Court should declare that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes [extraordinary circumstances] beyond the control of U.S. employers and foreign [nationals] seeking immigration benefits, including their legal representatives, and order USCIS to toll deadlines and the expiration dates for any individual’s lawful status, including the expiration dates for employment authorization where applicable,” the complaint states.
“In doing so, USCIS should ensure that all foreign nationals remain in lawful status, including but not limited to conditional lawful permanent residents, students, nonimmigrant workers, recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and those [with] Temporary Protected Status.”
A USCIS spokesperson declined to comment, saying it is the agency’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.Editorial Tags: CoronavirusLive UpdatesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
More than a quarter of colleges and universities (27 percent) are not making any changes to grading or transcript practices in response to the COVID-19 crisis, according to the results of a new survey from the American Association for Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). The group surveyed its members and received responses from officials at more than 600 colleges, with 94 percent representing U.S. institutions.
Among respondents, 81 percent said they have moved to entirely online or remote classes for the remainder of the current term. And 23 percent have moved to online or remote classes for the summer, with an additional 38 percent considering such a move. Other highlights from the findings include:
- 79 percent anticipate that degrees will be posted to students’ records in the normal timeframe.
- 47 percent have canceled graduation ceremonies with no alternative -- 14 percent rescheduled for another date and 12 percent moved to a virtual option.
- 44 percent are adhering to current policy on academic standing for the term -- 6 percent are suspending academic standing calculations for this term.
- Most institutions are either giving or considering giving students the choice to change one or more of their courses to pass/fail or another institutional equivalent.
AACRAO is planning rapid-response surveys on admissions, transfer and international students.
“The responses will help us develop guidance on a range of topics to support institutions as they review and adjust practices in light of the impact of this unprecedented situation," Michael Reilly, the group's executive director, said in a statement.Editorial Tags: CoronavirusLive UpdatesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
Northern Arizona University is offering students a 25-percent credit for their spring housing and dining charges if they move out by April 16, the university's president announced today.
Arizona’s universities have canceled in-person classes and moved to online learning. Many students balked at a lack of refunds, signing petitions and, in at least one case, filing a class-action lawsuit demanding reimbursements against the state’s Board of Regents.
Northern Arizona is the last public institution in the state to take the step, according to the Arizona Daily Sun. Over a week ago, the University of Arizona offered 10 percent of housing costs, and Arizona State University said this week that it would offer $1,500 in nonrefundable credits for students.Editorial Tags: CoronavirusLive UpdatesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
Learning management system and synchronous video tool usage saw their two biggest coronavirus-related spikes on March 23 and March 30, according to the blog Phil on Ed Tech. Canvas LMS usage increased more than 60 percent in terms of maximum concurrent users in the past two weeks, and video uploads surged. D2L Brightspace’s Virtual Classroom saw 25 times more activity. Blackboard’s Learn LMS log-ins increased fourfold, and its Collaborate virtual classroom activity increased by a factor of 36. Moodle and MoodleCloud as well as Schoolology were far busier than normal.
Significantly, synchronous video and virtual classroom usage have increased even more than LMS usage. Consultant Phil Hill’s analysis is that this reflects a "preference of teachers to first try to replicate their face-to-face class in virtual environments.” That preference is the defining feature of Phase 1 of the transition to remote teaching and learning, Hill said, citing a huge jump in Zoom videoconferencing overall (Zoom doesn’t share education-specific numbers).
Hill’s post includes a fascinating graphic of how the remote learning transition will progress, through 2021. One specific prediction? "I would expect to see a reduction in synchronous video usage" as professors realize its limitations, including for disadvantaged students, "and a further increase in core LMS usage," he said. At the same time, Hill said LMS providers will experience growing pains as they accommodate more and more users on existing subscriptions without gaining any corresponding revenue.Editorial Tags: CoronavirusLive UpdatesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
The Dream.US, an organization that provides scholarships to immigrant students known as Dreamers, released a survey Friday on the impact of COVID-19 on its scholars, the majority of whom are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides work authorization and temporary protection against deportation to undocumented young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. More than 1,600 Dreamers completed the survey, representing a 44.6 percent response rate.
Of the 76 percent of respondents who work while in school, 80 percent reported loss of income due to reduced work hours or temporary or permanent job losses. Half of respondents said they’d temporarily lost their jobs, and 7 percent said they’d permanently lost them.
Fifty-eight percent of Dreamers said they needed mental health support. Dreamers said their top needs are help with rent or utilities (65 percent cited this) and help with food or meals (cited by 48 percent). About a fifth of scholars -- 21.8 percent -- said they need help with free or low-cost wireless internet access, and 13.6 percent said they needed a free, borrowed or low-cost computer.
Candy Marshall, the president of TheDream.US, said in a news release that the survey “not only reminds us that Dreamers are facing heightened health worries and economic anxieties due to the impact of Covid-19, but are doing so while their own futures remain uncertain due to the precarious state of DACA,” the future of which is under consideration by the Supreme Court.Editorial Tags: CoronavirusLive UpdatesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
Primary Research Group Inc. has published data from a survey of 70 academic library directors and deans at U.S. institutions, including community colleges and four-year institutions. The survey, which was conducted during the last week of March, asked directors to describe how their libraries were adjusting to remote working, assisting in distance learning efforts, disinfecting library materials, teaching information literacy, altering materials spending and distribution to the new online audience, among other questions about challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Among respondents, roughly 96 percent said their institutions had moved all or most courses online until further notice. The rest said courses were canceled.
No libraries reported that an employee had been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the survey.
Community colleges and smaller institutions were more likely to be struggling with remote-work arrangements, the survey found. That finding squares with reporting by The Washington Post about community college libraries remaining open for students to use library computers and other technology they can't access elsewhere.
For example, only 35 percent of employees at community colleges were working remotely, compared to 75 percent of library employees at research universities. And the larger the college in terms of student enrollment, the greater the percentage of library employees were working remotely, the survey found.
At colleges with fewer than 1,500 students (full-time enrollment equivalent), only 44 percent of library employees were working from home. But 80 percent of library employees were working from home at colleges with enrollments of than 10,000 students.
The survey found that a plurality of respondents (about 50 percent) did not plan any major changes in their materials expenditures policies over the next six months. Primary Research Group said the survey was the second in a series, with a follow-up planned for release in May.Editorial Tags: CoronavirusLive UpdatesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0