COVID-19 Related Updates

Check back for the most recent guidance. This page will be updated regularly.

Last updated: October 23, 2020 at 9:30 am.

  1. Virtual Site Visits
  2. Deadlines & Due Dates
  3. Practice Experiences
  4. Curricular Changes
  5. Rescheduled Site Visits - Visits Originally Planned for March through May 2020
  6. What are CEPH’s plans for site visits in 2021, 2022, or later?
  7. Are CEPH staff available to answer questions during this time?
  8. Other COVID-19 related questions

1. Virtual Site Visits

On March 17, 2020, the United States Department of Education issued guidance allowing recognized agencies to proceed with virtual site visits on a temporary basis, on the condition that they are followed, within a reasonable time frame, by an in-person visit to campus. CEPH's Policy on Virtual Site Visits is available here.

CEPH began conducting virtual site visits in June and will continue to do so until it is safe to resume on-campus visits.

Agenda templates for virtual site visits are now available.

CEPH will make determinations about visit formats on a rolling basis as information becomes available and will define each visit's format no later than three months prior to the scheduled first day. If you have any questions about your upcoming accreditation review, contact CEPH staff at submissions@ceph.org.

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2. Deadlines & Due Dates

CEPH consistently establishes deadlines that give our schools and programs the maximum time possible to respond and still meet Council meeting deadlines and other procedural requirements. This means that a delay in submission may 1) cause a unit to be technically out of compliance longer than allowable by federal regulations or 2) require the decision to be moved to the next full Council meeting, when that is permissible. Therefore, we have not made any adjustments to deadlines for upcoming submissions. However, we understand that your students and communities come first, so if you have an individual concern or question, please contact submissions@ceph.org.

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3. Practice Experiences

What is CEPH guidance on proceeding with MPH practice experiences given disruptions to universities and workplaces?

Maximum flexibility and creative solutions should be applied to students whose experiences are impacted by the current crisis.

When feasible, we encourage you to do everything possible to support completion of the experience(s) that your school or program has developed, but we understand that there is still great uncertainly and distance-based work is likely to continue for an extended period of time. It may be necessary to consider your students on a case-by-case basis; while many practice sites will not be able to accommodate students, some are eager for assistance. We encourage you to try to identify replacement sites, activities, and/or products whenever possible. This effort may require reaching out to faculty members’ contacts in the community, asking students to think about relationships they already have, and considering experiences completed in students’ existing workplaces. You should also consider the purpose of the APE and/or ILE in your curriculum: how can you verify that students have sufficient experiences to ensure that they are practice ready at graduation?

For students who require a modified experience after consideration of the factors above, CEPH supports a modification of program policies to allow completion of products under the supervision of a faculty member rather than a community preceptor.

CEPH also supports applied practice experiences that provide capacity to the public health community that is managing and responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Units should assume a flexible approach that facilitates these experiences while preserving the spirit of the requirements outlined in the Accreditation Criteria.

The following examples are for illustration only:

Example 1: MPH students are conducting remote case investigations and contact tracing for the department of health. To successfully complete the APE requirement on the basis of this experience, a student could create the following types of products under a faculty member's supervision:

  • Develop an anonymized case study report, detailing a challenging or novel situation encountered
  • Record a simulated call or a call reenactment, based on a script prepared by the student
  • Develop a training or resource document for other employees or volunteers
  • Develop electronic or print materials that could be useful to community members receiving diagnoses and/or contact tracing calls

CEPH understands the need for confidentiality and anonymizing of experiences. While a pure reflection on the experience would not typically be an appropriate work product, the work products may summarize, build upon, memorialize, analyze, or extend the work performed with a public health agency. Training or outreach materials do not need to be deployed if this is not practical, but the experience should provide students with the opportunity to document concrete instances of skill application, and faculty must have evidence of skill application available to assess. These capacity-building experiences do not negate the requirement of two products that extend beyond reflections, journals, or self-assessments.

Example 2: A student planned to develop and deploy a survey for a practice site, and it is no longer possible to work with this agency. To successfully complete the experience, the student could create the following types of products under a faculty member’s supervision:

  • Similar type of survey
  • Hypothetical data report
  • Community dissemination plan

Example 3: A student was preparing to perform a needs assessment on a local community and can no longer leave home. To successfully complete the experience, the student could create the following types of products under a faculty member’s supervision:

  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Outreach materials
  • Public service announcements

We encourage schools and programs to be as flexible as possible and to work with all students to ensure that they can graduate in a timely fashion despite disruptions. In all cases, flexibility may include the following:

  • units may modify a student’s plan to address different competencies than originally intended
  • students may complete different activities/experiences/work products than originally intended
  • students may complete products for more than one unrelated site
  • students who are not graduating in the spring may complete the project in a future semester/quarter
  • faculty may assess students’ draft work products to allow completion of the experience without the products undergoing a review by the practice partner
  • units may modify the required contact hours for the experience (Note: CEPH criteria specify no contact hour requirements for applied practice experiences)
  • units can waive completion of required paperwork (e.g., preceptor evaluations, journals, contact hour logs) beyond the two work products required in the criteria
  • students may complete their practice experience, and associated products, in their place of employment

What is CEPH guidance on proceeding with bachelor’s level cumulative/experiential activities given disruptions to universities and workplaces?

This situation will likely require an individualized approach for each program, student and/or practice partner. CEPH continues to believe in the value of completing cumulative/experiential activities, and while we understand that most internship experiences cannot continue as originally planned, at this time, there is not a waiver of the expectations related to this criterion.

It is important to note that students at the bachelor’s level (in an SPH, PHP, or SBP) are not required to complete an internship in order to satisfy the cumulative/experiential activities criterion. Other options noted in the criterion include portfolio projects, research papers, and honors theses. CEPH supports flexible approaches at this time and you may temporarily modify your policies to accommodate current circumstances.

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4. Curricular Changes

What should we do if a component of our required curriculum, e.g., service learning or assessment activity for a specific competency, is no longer feasible?

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 we need to modify curricular requirements (e.g., assessments, mode of delivery) to accommodate current circumstances, are we required to submit a substantive change notice?

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.

Do we need to notify CEPH if we change from letter grading to pass/fail?

No, a substantive change notice is not required for this type of change.

Do we need to notify CEPH if we waive the GRE because applicants are unable to take the test or remove the GRE requirement altogether?

No, a substantive change notice is not required for this type of change.

If you have a question about a specific case, please contact submissions@ceph.org.

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5. Rescheduled Site Visits - Visits Originally Planned for March through May 2020

Based on the emergent situation, CEPH made the decision to reschedule all site visits scheduled to occur between March 10, 2020 and May 29, 2020 for new dates during summer or fall 2020. The Council acted to extend accreditation terms or initial applicant periods as needed to accommodate the shifts in site visit dates. For units pursuing initial accreditation, the delay will not affect the initial date of accreditation recorded by CEPH.

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6. What are CEPH’s plans for site visits in 2021, 2022, or later?

CEPH has instituted protocols (e.g., virtual site visits when deemed appropriate and necessary) that allow the agency to maintain its current site visit schedules in the coming seasons and years. Visits scheduled for 2021 and later are expected to proceed as planned, and the format will be determined closer to the site visit date. The Council understands that schools and programs are balancing a number of priorities at this time; however, accreditation requires a sufficient level of resources to maintain the operations, data collection and review, and reporting that is expected of an accredited unit. As noted above, if you have individual concerns or questions, contact submissions@ceph.org.

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7. Are CEPH staff available to answer questions during this time?

Yes! As always, you may submit your questions to submissions@ceph.org or call (202) 789-1050. Our staff is ready to be a resource to you during this time.

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8. Other COVID-19 related questions

If you have any COVID-19 related questions not addressed above, please contact submissions@ceph.org.

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