• Rebecca Natow

COVID-19 and Federal Higher Education Policy

Some higher education policy news today demonstrates how the federal government has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, Inside Higher Education reports that a Congressional Research Service memo recently "noted that the Education Department did not conduct a notice-and-comment rule-making process and concluded, 'The secretary’s interpretation is not a particularly persuasive reading of the statute.'"

Also Inside Higher Education and the Chronicle of Higher Education have coverage of both sides of the debate about whether Congress should pass legislation protecting higher education institutions from civil liability in the event of lawsuits that may result from campuses opening in the wake of COVID-19.

From the Chronicle: "The American Council on Education sent a letter on Thursday to Senate and House leaders seeking 'temporary and targeted' liability-exposure protections for institutions that open their campuses this fall. The letter, co-signed by more than 70 other higher-education associations, also seeks protections for faculty and staff members and institutional systems, including affiliated nonprofit organizations and health-care providers."

From Inside Higher Education: "Weighing in for the first time on the push by colleges to be protected from coronavirus-related lawsuits should they reopen, Senator Patty Murray said she opposes granting a “liability shield” because it would essentially say, 'it’s okay if students or employees get sick.'”

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