March 6, 2020

To ACEN-Accredited Nursing Programs:

This correspondence is in the spirit of open communication and working together. As healthcare providers we have a better understanding than the general public of what to do and what not to do related to COVID-19. As your supportive partner, the ACEN is providing the link to the leading international and national resources related to COVID-19.

  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

On March 5, 2020, the United States Department of Education (USDE) provided accrediting agencies guidance for flexibility related to the situations below.

  • A student was enrolled or was supposed to begin a travel-abroad experience and either the student has been called back to the U.S. or was never able to begin the travel abroad experience;
  • A student was enrolled in a program and met the requirements for full-time enrollment; however, due to the COVID-19, one or more classes – such as an internship, a clinical rotation, student teaching or fieldwork – have been cancelled and now the student has fallen below the 12 credit hour minimum and is no longer considered to be a full-time student;
  • A student is quarantined and misses class or a student is incapacitated due to COVID-19 illness;
  • A campus temporarily stops offering ground-based classes in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  • A foreign school that serves U.S. students who participate in title IV programs temporarily suspends operations due to COVID-19.

If disruption in class and/or clinical schedules occurs “flexibility” could be the temporary use of distance education to maintain instructional and teaching activities. For example, if a face-to-face course’s/program’s instruction and learning activities are temporarily disrupted due to campus closures, distance education may be implemented as a method to maintain instruction and learning activities. In this situation, ACEN approval to use distance education temporarily will not be necessary.

Nursing programs also need to reach out to the state regulatory agency (e.g., Board of Nursing) regarding a temporary disruption and what that agency requires or may need from you, especially if consideration is being given to using distance education and simulation for clinical/practicum learning experiences.

Please reach out to me if you need guidance on a unique strategy to deal with a disruption related to COVID-19. Otherwise, move forward using temporary, commonsense approaches without ACEN guidance or approval.

Marsal P. Stoll, EdD, MSN
Chief Executive Officer