Washington Wrap Up – March 31, 2020

Below is an abridged version of RAMC’s weekly Washington Wrap Up. Find out more about Wrap Up and other RAMC resources here.


March 31, 2020

The Senate and House both passed the third COVID-19 relief package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R.748), which the President is expected to sign into law today. The bill includes roughly $2 trillion in emergency funding for States, businesses and individuals, including a $30.75 billion Education Stabilization Fund which distributes funding via different formulas to Governors in each State, State educational agencies (SEAs) and institutions of higher education (IHEs). The bill also offers flexibility to States, IHEs and students regarding a number of Higher Education Act and Elementary and Secondary Education Act requirements.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that it will stop the involuntary collection of Federal student loans, such as through wage garnishments, for at least 60 days, dating back to March 13, 2020. As part of this announcement, ED also directed its private loan collection agencies to stop proactive collection activities such as issuing collection letters.

ED granted initial approval to 45 States to receive assessment waivers for the 2019-2020 school year.

ED released a fact sheet on addressing the risk of COVID-19 in PreK-12 schools while serving students with disabilities.

ED posted questions and answers for student borrowers related to requesting forbearance for Federal student loans and which Federal student loans will not have interest accrue during the 60-day period announced by the President.

ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will require the Pennsylvania State University to make changes to its Title IX procedures after finding that the school failed to have systems in place that protect students, including when sexual misconduct involves athletic staff.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a statement of interest in opposition to a Connecticut policy which requires schools to allow transgender students to play on sports teams that match their gender identity.

Due to current events, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) has changed the application due date for the Pathways to Credentials technical assistance project. Applications will now be due by 5 p.m. Central time on Thursday, April 16, 2020.

Education News Headlines
[Click on the link to read the article online]
What the Coronavirus Aid Bill Trump Signed Does for Education, in One Chart [Education Week]

Coronavirus leads many colleges — including some that are competitive — to go test optional [Inside Higher Ed]

A’s for all? Pass/fail? Colleges grapple with grading fairness during coronavirus [The Los Angeles Times]

To salvage the semester, college professors make a rapid pivot to teaching online [The Washington Post]

Careers in a Changing Era: How Higher Ed Can Fight the Skills Gap and Prepare Students for a Dynamic World of Work [Inside Higher Ed]

Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus Fears, Too [The New York Times]

College presidents fear financial — and human — toll of coronavirus on their campuses [Inside Higher Ed]

Massive Shift to Remote Learning Prompts Big Data Privacy Concerns [Education Week]

Colleges Get Billions in Coronavirus Relief, but Say Deal Falls Short of Needs [The New York Times]

Groups Urge DeVos to Pause Title IX Rulemaking as Schools Face Coronavirus [Education Week]

The  2020 Survey of College and University Student Affairs Officers [Inside Higher Ed]

How Does Current Law Limit Betsy DeVos’ Power to Waive Education Mandates? [Education Week]

Student Debt Forgiveness Not Expected in Stimulus Bill [Inside Higher Ed]

Education Dept. Will Stop Collecting On Student Borrowers In Default  [National Public Radio]

The Great Recession Was Bad for Higher Education. Coronavirus Could Be Worse. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

College leaders chip away at growing list of urgent coronavirus response tasks [Inside Higher Ed]

How Is Covid-19 Changing Prospective Students’ Plans? Here’s an Early Look [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

As stimulus remains in flux, Democrats push for more student debt cancelation [Inside Higher Ed]

Committee News and Schedule, Schedule for House and Senate Floor:
Speaker of the House
Press Release: Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

House Education and Labor Committee 
Press Release: Chairman Scott Statement on House Passage of CARES Act

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions  
Press Release: Alexander: “Sweeping Relief” On Its Way to Keep Paychecks Coming For Workers and Relieve Financial Burdens For Americans Hurt By COVID-19

Senate Committee on Appropriations
Press ReleaseLeahy Releases Appropriations Summary Of Bipartisan Coronavirus Aid And Economic Relief Agreement

House Committee on Appropriations 
Press Release: House Passes Third Coronavirus Relief Bill

House Committee on the Budget
Press ReleaseChairman Yarmuth on Passage of Historic Families & Workers-First Coronavirus Legislation

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation 
Press Release: Bill to Improve Broadband Data Maps Signed Into Law

U.S. Department of Education and the Administration:
White House Press Release: Remarks by President Trump at Signing of H.R.748, The CARES Act

DOL Press Release: U.S. Department Of Labor Adds To Guidance For Workers And Employers Explaining Paid Sick Leave And Expanded Family And Medical Leave Benefits Under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

ED Press Release: U.S. Department of Education Holds Penn State Accountable for its Failure to Protect Students from Sexual Misconduct, Requires Major Overhaul of Title IX Procedures Following Compliance Review

ED Press Release: Secretary DeVos Directs FSA to Stop Wage Garnishment, Collections Actions for Student Loan Borrowers, Will Refund More Than $1.8 Billion to Students, Families

IES Blog: Seeking Your Help in Learning More About What Works in Distance Education: A Rapid Evidence Synthesis

CRS Report: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—Tax Relief for Individuals and Businesses

Updated Information: Pathways to Credentials (Stackable Credentials) Technical Assistance Opportunity: Due to current events, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) has changed the application due date for the Pathways to Credentials technical assistance project. Applications will now be due by 5 p.m. Central time on Thursday, April 16, 2020.
For more information on the project and for access to the updated application, please visit https://cte.ed.gov/initiatives/about-pathways-to-credentials. This exciting initiative, supported by OCTAE, aims to build the capacity of community colleges to improve career and technical education credential attainment rates among youth and adults enrolled in associate degree programs. The project offers colleges the opportunity to apply for free customized technical assistance on stackable credential program design, including such components as employer engagement, industry certification alignment, and non-credit/credit integration. A cohort of up to 10 community colleges will be selected. Teams from the selected colleges will participate in an in-person institute and work with a technical assistance coach and other subject matter experts over the course of a year to advance their work in embedding stackable industry-recognized credentials within associate degree programs. Participating colleges will develop action plans specific to the workforce needs of their communities while benefiting from the peer learning community of the cohort.
OCTAE hopes that the extra two weeks gives flexibility to teams working remotely during campus closures. As of now, OCTAE has not decided on a date for the in-person Technical Assistance Institute currently scheduled for May 28–29, 2020, but is closely monitoring travel guidance and are prepared to reevaluate as conditions warrant. OCTAE will keep the public posted as decisions are made—both via email and by posting on our website https://cte.ed.gov. Further, if the in-person institute presents a challenge for a selected college, OCTAE will work with the selected colleges to best meet their needs, whether that means virtual delivery, moving the in-person event to later in the year, or some combination thereof.
For more information, please contact Erin Berg, community college program specialist, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at erin.berg@ed.gov, or the project director, Hope Cotner, President, CORD, at hcotner@cord.org

Legislative Movement in Congress Last Week:
H.R.748 — CARES Act
Sponsor: Rep. Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2] (Introduced 01/24/2019) Cosponsors: (369)
Committees: House – Ways and Means
Latest Action:  03/27/2020 Became Public Law No: 116-136.
Press Release: Courtney Statement On House Passage Of The Bipartisan CARES Act

H.R.6397 — To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for the refinancing of certain Federal student loans, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2] (Introduced 03/26/2020) Cosponsors: (40)
Committees: House – Education and Labor
Latest Action:  House – 03/26/2020 Referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.
Press Release: Courtney Introduces Bill To Give Student Borrowers A Fair Deal In The Road To Economic Recovery Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

H.R.6394 — To help small business broadband providers keep customers connected.
Sponsor: Rep. Welch, Peter [D-VT-At Large] (Introduced 03/25/2020) Cosponsors: (3)
Committees: House – Appropriations
Latest Action:  House – 03/25/2020 Referred to the House Committee on Appropriations.
Press Release: Welch Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Help Rural Communities Stay Online During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

H.R.6316 — To provide relief for Federal and private student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Dean, Madeleine [D-PA-4] (Introduced 03/23/2020) Cosponsors: (0)
Committees: House – Education and Labor; Financial Services; Ways and Means Latest Action:  House – 03/23/2020 Referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, and in addition to the Committees on Financial Services, and Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the…
Press Release: Rep. Dean introduces the Emergency Assistance for Student Borrowers Act of 2020

H.R.6363 — To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to halt collection of certain student loans, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Pressley, Ayanna [D-MA-7] (Introduced 03/23/2020) Cosponsors: (19)
Committees: House – Education and Labor; Ways and Means
Latest Action:  House – 03/23/2020 Referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee…
Press Release: Reps. Pressley & Omar Introduce Bold Plan to Cancel Student Debt Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Federal Education Training and Grant Opportunities, Notices:
ED Grant Notice: Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities—Interdisciplinary Preparation in Special Education, Early Intervention, and Related Services for Personnel Serving Children with Disabilities who have High-Intensity Needs. Applications due May 29, 2020. 

Executive Office of the President Executive Order: Providing Federal Support for Governors’ Use of the National Guard To Respond to COVID-19

ED Grant Notice: Statistical and Research Methodology in Education and the Using Longitudinal Data to Support State Education Policymaking Grant Programs. Applications due July 30, 2020.

ACF Comment Request: Title V State Sexual Risk Avoidance Education (SRAE) Program. Comments due within 60 days.