Mythbusters: COVID-19 Edition

CEPH has a regularly updated webpage devoted to COVID-19 and its impacts on accreditation. Please continue to check this page for more detail about the topics discussed below as well as other areas impacted by the pandemic.

MYTH: My program is an applicant with a site visit originally scheduled for spring 2020. The visit has been postponed, and I’m worried that the program’s initial date of accreditation will now be later.

TRUTH: As long as you submit your preliminary and final self-studies as scheduled, this situation will not affect the initial date of accreditation. Your applicant status will remain in effect until we can conduct a site visit and make an accreditation decision. CEPH staff has reached out to all programs with initial accreditation site visits in spring 2020, and it is a top priority to reschedule these visits promptly.

MYTH: My program is already accredited and was scheduled to have a reaccreditation site visit in spring 2020. Our accreditation term expires on July 1, 2020, and I am concerned that we will lose our accreditation if we cannot have our site visit by this date.

TRUTH: No units' current accreditation terms will expire due to the delay. We will reschedule these visits as soon as possible, and current terms will continue until the Council can make the next accreditation decision after a site visit.

MYTH: If everyone is working remotely, CEPH should conduct virtual site visits.

TRUTH: The US Department of Education issued guidance on the evening of March 17, 2020, allowing accreditors to conduct virtual site visits. However, it also stated that accreditors must follow the virtual site visit with an in-person visit within a reasonable period of time. We are sensitive to not duplicating effort or creating more work for our schools and programs in a time of crisis; therefore, this is not an option that we believe is useful at this time.

MYTH: Our university is considering using credit/no credit (pass/fail, satisfactory/unsatisfactory) rather than letter grades for courses that have transitioned to an online format, and I think we need to notify CEPH about this kind of change.

TRUTH: CEPH does not have any requirements around how courses are graded. We understand that these courses may not be considered in a student’s GPA calculation and that is OK. This type of change does not impact accreditation, and a substantive change notice is not required.

MYTH: If a component of our required curriculum (e.g., service learning or assessment activity for a specific competency) is no longer feasible, it won't be possible for students to complete the course.

TRUTH: CEPH supports maximum flexibility to develop appropriate alternative assessments for students who are enrolled in the course or experience during the period of time impacted by COVID-19. We expect that you will act in good faith when modifying expectations. If your unit has a site visit in the next three years and you need to develop a temporary, alternative assessment, you should not include these assessments in your self-study or ERF.

MYTH: We must notify CEPH if we are making changes to our curriculum or other requirements (e.g., assessments, mode of delivery) based on COVID-19 restrictions.

TRUTH: No, a substantive change notice is not required unless the modification is a permanent change. CEPH does not intend to approve individual plans to alter assessments during the period of time impacted by COVID-19. A temporary change to distance-based delivery due to current circumstances does NOT require notification to CEPH.

MYTH: My school/program has a site visit scheduled in the next three years (e.g., fall 2022). We are making temporary modifications to the APE for student experiences impacted by COVID-19, and we should include samples of these students’ work when we write our self-study.

TRUTH: If your unit has a site visit in the next three years and you need to adopt any flexible approaches related to the curriculum, you should not include these examples in your self-study or ERF.

MYTH: The CEPH office is closed and there is no one available to answer my questions.

TRUTH: CEPH staff is working remotely based on guidelines provided by state and local officials. As always, you may submit your questions to [email protected] or call (202) 789-1050. Our staff is ready to be a resource to you during this time. As a reminder, please continue to check CEPH’s webpage devoted to COVID-19 updates.

Written by: Kristen Varol, MPH, PMP, CHES