Resources to support the sudden shift to distance modalities

Institutional Planning & Compliance
Equity & Distance Education
Student Complaint Compliance
Open Education Resources
Faculty Support
Virtual labs, simulations and interactive learning objects
Distance learning organizations' COVID-19 hubs

U.S. Department of Education (USED)

  • On December 11, 2020 USED updated its guidance to institutions and accrediting bodies in response to continued interruption of their activities as a result of COVID-19. (Note: Initial department guidance and FAQ were issued on March 5.)
  • The language ensures that schools will not be in violation of 34 CFR 600.9 state authorization requirements. Please continue reading for clarification regarding State level approvals and reciprocity. If an institution chooses to continue offering a new program or use distance education in a manner requiring USED’s approval after that point, it must seek approval under USED’s normal process.

USED strongly recommends that institutions document, as contemporaneously as possible, any actions taken as a result of COVID-19.

USED: Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel 

Reciprocity in distance learning

  • States have the authority to regulate educational activities within their borders and they may choose to regulate out-of-state institutions that conduct activities in their state.
  • Participation in a reciprocal agreement, such as the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), under the policies and procedures of the agreement, will support state level compliance with distance education delivery.
  • non-SARA participating institution, that may not have the approval to operate online in another state, will have that green light at the federal level during this time. Institutions may provide distance learning temporarily to accommodate students as a result of a COVID-19 interruption, including in cases where students began attendance in classes offered in a brick-and-mortar setting but were transitioned to a distance education format in the middle of the term.
  • At the state level, however, non-participating institutions must separately address state law requirements.The temporary relaxations of federal requirements for distance education do not have an impact on SARA policy.
  • View NC-SARA’s State Authorization Guide for state level compliance information, including States who regulate purely online programs by out-of-state institutions without regard to physical presence.

Read NC-SARA’s Statement on COVID19

Additional compliance considerations

SARA in the time of coronavirus by Sheridan Miller

Related Distance Education & State Authorization Articles

A Note to the NC-SARA Community Regarding COVID-19
March 5, 2020
By: Lori Williams, President & CEO, NC-SARA

WCET State Authorization Network Special Interest Team: Licensure Research & Disclosures
Stakeholder Meeting Tips, February 13, 2020
Stakeholder Engagement Tips, February 5, 2020

Webcast: Final Federal Regulations for State Authorization
Review and discussion of the new 2019 Federal Regulations (topics include: 2016 federal rule, early implementation, professional licensure disclosures, international campus) 
December 10, 2019
NC-SARA webcast with guest presenter Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP

Is Early Implementation of ED’s State Authorization for Distance Education Rule right for Your Institution?
November 11, 2019
By: Nancy Anderson, Caitlyn Shelby, and Paul Thompson, Cooley, LLP

D.C. Update: A busy year for Higher Ed General Updates, Accreditation, Distance Education and EdTech Regulations
Session handouts cataloging key documents (HEA base text & amendments, 2019 Fed Reg Announcement, WCET commentary)
November 6, 2019, WCET’s 31st Annual Meeting
Collated and distributed by WCET

ED Publishes Final Distance Education State Authorization for Distance Education Rule
November 5, 2019
By: Nancy Anderson, Caitlyn Shelby, and Paul Thompson, Cooley, LLP

Professors’ Slow, Steady Acceptance of Online Learning: A Survey
October 30, 2019
By: Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed

Guiding Questions: Steps for State Authorization ComplianceBy: Cheryl Dowd, WCET’s State Authorization Network (SAN)
distributed at Connecticut Office of Higher Education Distance Education Forum

Show me the money: Shifting legislative conversations about the cost of distance education
October 4, 2019
By: Van Davis @historydoc