Finally, the Department of Education (DE) offered some important relief to universities and colleges. On July 10, the DoE announced that it’s giving regulatory flexibility due to COVID-19. It has announced a new date for Annual Security Report and other regulatory disclosures.
This new announcement would surely help institutions struggling with reopening. The rising COVID-19 cases are forcing institutes to reconsider their reopening plans. Moreover, the deadline for implementing the new Title IX rules is close by.
In its July 10 announcement, the department extended the following deadlines –
- Colleges can publish their Annual Security Report by December 31. The same applies for the Annual Fire Safety Report.
- The annual crime and fire statistics survey will open on November 18, 2020. It will remain open until January 14, 2021.
- Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) disclosures can be distributed by December 31.
- The online EADA survey would open from December 2, 2020 through January 28, 2021.
These extensions should help institutes with COVID-19 challenges. It’s already understood that some colleges may not be able to open their campuses for the fall semester. July has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases. Most institutions are now being forced to make changes to their initial reopening plans. Some colleges are even reviewing if they should reopen their campuses for in-person classes or not.
Institutes that want to reopen their campuses are facing serious planning issues. Holding in-person classes and opening up on-campus housing facilities carry a high risk. They could increase crowdedness – exposing students and faculty to the risk of COVID-19. Reducing this student density is a major challenge. Moreover, institutions are liable for providing accommodations to students with disability. If classes are held online, then the college will have to provide the necessary accommodations to such students.
Moreover, students and faculty alike are reluctant about returning to classrooms.
Colleges also need to put in place the new Title IX regulations by August 14. These rules demand major changes to college’s Title IX policies and infrastructure. Important new practices include
- Offering supporting measures to victims,
- Shifting away from the single-investigation model, and
- Conducting live hearing for sexual misconduct cases.
These are exhaustive tasks. With most staff still working from home, colleges are in major threat of missing the deadline.
Under these conditions, these extensions would help institutions to concentrate upon urgent issues. They can now divert their resources towards creating a safe environment for students and employees.
As stated above, institutions have until December 31 to distribute the annual security and fire safety report. The date for EADA disclosures has also been extended to December 31.
Annual Security Report and Annual Fire Safety Report
Under the Clery Act, institutions receiving Title IV funding need to disclose details of the crimes that happen over the campus. They must publish and distribute these details as an Annual Security Report by October 1 every year.
Similarly, institutions with on-campus housing facilities need to publish and distribute an Annual Fire Safety Report. This report is in addition to the Annual Security Report. This too must happen by October 1.
Any missing statistics, or error could lead to a Clery violation. The Department of Education can impose up to $55,907 for a single Clery violation.
Moreover, institutions must submit fire and Clery crime statistics to the Department of Education via the web-based survey mentioned above. This survey would be open from November 18 through January 14 next year.
These compliance tasks take effort and time. Publishing and distribution of the Annual Security report involve certain steps, such as –
- Updating required policy statements
- Compiling Clery crime statistics for last three years
- Determining who gets the report
- Distributing the report
- Retaining records associated with the report
Besides, the crime statistics that are included over the ASR don’t just come from campus police, but they are collected from various police departments where applicable, and the campus security authorities.
The publication requirements of the fire safety report are the same as those for the security report.
Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) disclosures is another such report. The deadline for EADA disclosures is October 15.
The Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) Report requires institutions with an intercollegiate athletics program to collect and publish the following information
- Number of student-athletes on their men’s and women’s team
- Recruiting expenses
- The amount spent on student-athletes
- Average staff salaries
- Revenue generated
This data is collected for both the men’s and women’s teams. The EADA report gives a picture of how well an institution is meeting its responsibilities under the Title IX act.
Institutions also need to share this data with the Department of Education via a web-survey. The web-survey would now be open from December 2, 2020 through January 28, 2021.
The Department of Education can impose fines of up to $57,317 for each violation.
Both, the Annual Security Report and the EADA disclosures are important disclosures. They need time, and they need resources. By extending the dates for their distribution, ED has made it easier for colleges to address the challenges hindering reopening for the fall semester.
You can read the press release over the Federal Student Aid website.