Hearings, Guidance for Higher Ed in Age of COVID-19

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

Hearings/Markups of Interest. The House Education and Labor Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee scheduled a hearing on Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on the Future of Higher Education for Tuesday, July 7 at 12 p.m. The House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee scheduled the Markup of Education Appropriations for FY2021 for Tuesday, July 7 at 5 p.m.

CDC Issues COVID-19 Guidelines for Educators. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued recommendations on COVID-19 testing in higher education. The health agency cautioned colleges and universities against testing all of their students and faculty for the coronavirus before allowing them onto campus. The CDC gave similar advice in its guidance for K-12 educators. Schools should not conduct universal coronavirus testing for students and staff when reopening this fall and school staff should not be expected to directly administer tests, the CDC said.

House Passes School Infrastructure Legislation. The House passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that includes $130 billion for school infrastructure projects. The legislation passed by a 233 to 188 vote but is unlikely to be considered in the Senate. The infrastructure package, called The Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), includes legislation from House Education and Labor Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) to help America rebuild and reopen schools. It would provide $100 billion in grants and $30 billion in bond authority for high-poverty schools that need upgrades to their buildings for safety. Funding would be focused on reopening schools in line with CDC health guidelines and could be used to improve digital learning, including expanding access to high-speed broadband. The White House has threatened to veto the bill and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the plan had no chance in his chamber. McConnell has also said the Senate will stick to its plan of passing another relief bill later next month.

Supreme Court Rules on Religious School Exemption. The Supreme Court ruled in support of religious schools in Montana in a case that may impact school choice funding nationwide. The court, in a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, declared Montana’s exclusion of religious schools from a tax-credit scholarship program to be unconstitutional, the New York Times reports. The law firm that won is now using that victory to help challenge a Maine law that excludes religious schools from the state’s high school tuition program. Three families in Maine would like to choose religious schools for the tuition program but are barred by state law.

ED Launches Rural Technology Competition. The U.S. Education Department launched a $600,000 competition, called The Rural Tech Project and part of the Ed Prizes series, inviting high schools and local educational agencies to develop competency-based distance learning programs in rural communities. Those interested in entering the challenge are asked to submit a proposal by Oct. 8. A virtual information session will be held on July 21.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week Congress is in session featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of July 6, 2020. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.


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