Students at Drexel University and the University of Miami have sued their respective institutions for tuition and fee refunds, claiming they paid for services and in-person instruction, which are no longer being provided because of the coronavirus pandemic. Other lawsuits have emerged accusing colleges of improperly withholding refunds for housing, meals and other expenses, but these are the first legal challenges concerning tuition reimbursement.
Community colleges are struggling to help students fulfill clinical hours for other programs that produce workers needed to combat the virus, such as nurses and medical technicians, as well as those that aren’t, like dental hygienists. In many cases, their programs require a specific number of clinical hours that students can’t or are struggling to get because colleges and healthcare facilities have shut down their programs to help prevent the virus from spreading to more people.
When the Pennsylvania Department of Education was redesigning its school report card in 2018, it didn’t limit the data on students’ college and career readiness to the typical indicators of participation in Advanced Placement courses, admission test scores or even whether students earned an industry-recognized credential. Its Future Ready PA Index includes percentages of students from each high school entering college, the military or the workforce, and a further breakdown shows the percentage of black, white and economically disadvantaged graduates following each of those pathways.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Thursday that more than $6 billion will be distributed immediately to colleges and universities nationwide to provide direct emergency cash grants to low-income students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. The funding is available through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law by President Donald Trump.
Now that many school and district buildings are closed, state leaders, educators and in some cases, business leaders are looking at how best to provide continuity of education and support services to their students and communities. While states and school districts already have plans for emergency management and temporary school closures for natural disasters and other events beyond our control, this is the longest sustained disruption to the idea of normalcy in American life — and American schools — that many of us have encountered. In times such as these, it’s important to look to one another for answers, examples and inspiration.