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Department of Education Seeking Best Practices for Reopening Colleges and Universities

The United States Department of Education has issued a request for information on how schools, colleges and universities, and early education providers are reopening, operating safely and supporting students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The information gathered will inform ED's Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse, a website under development that will highlight lessons learned from the field and provide resources for meeting student, teacher, faculty and staff needs.

The request for information is focused on three topics:

  • Safe and healthy environments. Here, ED is looking for institutional approaches to implementing the CDC's recommended COVID mitigation strategies and preparing for and sustaining in-person operations safely. This includes, for example, campus protocols for distancing, mask wearing, hand-washing stations, maximum classroom occupancy, etc., as well as managing testing and vaccination sites and supporting students both on and off campus who are in isolation/quarantine.
  • Providing support to students. Examples here include mental health support, childcare, housing assistance, financial support, effective course management and delivery, creating flexibilities in the academic calendar and class schedules, and identifying and mitigating equity issues such as broadband access.
  • Teacher, faculty and staff well-being, professional development and support. Mental health support and assistance with childcare are factors here too, as well as access to training in effective remote or hybrid instruction.

Submissions should provide a description of the lesson learned or best practice plus a summary of its impact and any evidence of positive outcomes, and include "substantive materials" such as "fact sheets, step-by-step guidance, policies or regulations, sample agreements among partners (e.g., between a local education agency and a local health agency, or an employee union), ready-to-implement resources, videos or other media focused on how to implement practices, and descriptions of how strategies have been implemented."

Submissions can be made by e-mail to [email protected] until September 2021. The full request for information is available in the Federal Register.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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