General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The information on this page is updated regularly.  Last Updated on June 1, 2020 (10:50 AM CDT)

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has received numerous inquiries from higher education institutions regarding compliance with relevant state rules and reporting requirements that may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The responses below are intended to provide general guidance to institutions from the THECB during this health emergency. THECB staff will update this guidance as we receive additional inquiries and information. If you have a particular need this general guidance does not address, please contact Mary Smith at mary.smith@highered.texas.gov for assistance. In addition to this guidance, please consult the THECB’s Coronavirus Update for Higher Education page for information on COVID-19 and higher education.

Office of the Texas Governor, Greg Abbott

Governor Abbott has waived several regulations to help meet Texas growing need for nurses in response to the COVID-19 virus. Specifically, the Governor has expanded the active nursing workforce by doing the following:

  • Allowing temporary permit extensions to practice for graduate nurses and graduate vocational nurses who have yet to take the licensing exam;
  • Allowing students in their final year of nursing school to meet their clinical objectives by exceeding the 50% limit on simulated experiences; and
  • Allowing nurses with inactive licenses or retired nurses to reactivate their licenses.

More information about the Governor’s action to expand the Texas nursing workforce can be found here:https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-takes-action-to-expand-nursing-workforce.

Questions on nurse education at THECB can be directed to Stacey Silverman, Assistant Commissioner for Academic Quality and Workforce, at Stacey.Silverman@highered.texas.gov.

 

 

CENSUS 2020

For Institutions:

The U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted operations to ensure college students are counted in the 2020 Census even during COVID-19. Primarily, it is important that college and university students are counted in the right place. Even though Texas colleges and universities may have closed down for the Spring semester, it is important students are counted where they were living prior to campuses shutting down. Census Bureau guidelines are the following:

If a student was living at school, they should be counted at school. This is the case even if they are temporarily living somewhere else during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • If a student normally lives on-campus in a dorm or in college-owned Greek housing, the higher education institution is responsible for counting this student through Group Quarters Enumeration. Institutions can contact the U.S. Census Bureau for additional information on this operation, please visit: https://2020census.gov/en/conducting-the-count/gq/gqe.html or contact Emma Moss at emma.f.moss@2020census.gov or 972-510-1510,  Ext 01498.
  • If a student normally lives off-campus in an apartment or a house, then they must be instructed to complete a census form on their own using the address of this housing unit.
    • They can be instructed to check their mail for an invitation from the Census Bureau and can complete their census form online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail. They should include themselves and everyone else living at this address when they respond.
    • They should respond to the census form even if they do not have all of their roommate’s information.
    • If students are away from their normal address and are not able to check their mail, they can still respond to the census online. They can respond by going to 2020census.gov and responding without their Response ID.
  • If a student normally lives off-campus with their parents, then their parents must include them in their census form.
    • Parents are only encouraged to include their student in their census form if the student normally lives with them while they attend college. However, if parents happen to include a college or university student in their census form, but the student normally lives away at college, they can provide this information on their census form.

It is important college university students are counted where they normally live because students in college towns use critical local resources, including roads, public transportation and health clinics. Getting funds for those resources depends on making sure students are counted in the right place. For additional information, please visit 2020census.gov. For the Census Bureau’s latest statement on counting college students during the pandemic, please visit: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/modifying-2020-operations-for-counting-college-students.html. For additional outreach materials to encourage students to respond to the 2020 census, please visit: https://2020census.gov/en/partners.html.

For Parents and Students:

The U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted operations to ensure college students are counted in the 2020 Census even during COVID-19. Primarily, it is important that college and university students are counted in the right place. Even though Texas colleges and universities may have closed down for the Spring semester, it is important students are counted where they were living prior to campuses shutting down. Census Bureau guidelines are the following:

If a student was living at school, they should be counted at school. This is the case even if they are temporarily living somewhere else during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • If a student normally lives on-campus in a dorm or in college-owned Greek housing, the college or university will count the student.
  • If a student normally lives off-campus in an apartment or a house, then they must complete a census form on their own using the address of where they normally live.
    • The Census Bureau mailed an invitation with a Response ID. The student can use this ID to complete their census form online at 2020census.gov, by phone by calling 844-330-2020, or by mail. They should include themselves and everyone else living at this address when they respond.
    • They should respond to the census form even if they do not have all of their roommate’s information.
    • If students are away from their normal address and are not able to check their mail, they can still respond to the census online by going to 2020census.gov and responding without a Response ID. Again, they should provide the address where they normally on their census form and try to include as much information as they have on their roommate(s).
  • If a student normally lives off-campus with their parents, then their parents must include them in their census form. Parents too can respond online, by phone, or by mail.
    • Parents are only encouraged to include their student in their census form if the student normally lives with them while they attend college. However, if parents happen to include a college or university student in their census form, but the student normally lives away at college, they can provide this information on their census form.

It is important college university students are counted where they normally live because students in college towns use critical local resources, including roads, public transportation and health clinics. Getting funds for those resources depends on making sure students are counted in the right place. For additional information, please visit 2020census.gov. For the Census Bureau’s latest statement on counting college students during the pandemic, please visit: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/modifying-2020-operations-for-counting-college-students.html. For a short video on how students can respond to the 2020census, visit: https://youtu.be/B4Ee8ol_LxY.

 

Facilities Remedial Audits

Yes.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board may reschedule planned facilities remedial audits. This will allow the institutions with planned but not yet completed remedial audits in fiscal year 2020, to reschedule for the next fiscal year. This will provide these institutions with greater flexibility to focus on the needs of their students during this public health crisis.

Institutional staff may work with Higher Education Coordinating Board staff to schedule and complete the remedial audit during fiscal year 2020 and 2021 in accordance with any state guidance on travel and access to institutional campuses.

 

Faculty Evaluations

Given the disruption of moving a course from an in-person to online modality, institutions anticipate that faculty evaluations may not accurately reflect faculty work. An institution of higher education should consider if they can productively conduct end-of-course faculty evaluations for classes in keeping with state statute and Board rules (Texas Education Code §51.974 (h) and Texas Administrative Code, rule 4.228 (e)), which requires institutions conduct end-of-course student evaluations of faculty. Some classes may have been disrupted to the extent that it might be difficult to ensure effective evaluation. Institutional administrators may be able to conduct evaluations for some classes but not others and should keep documentation of their decision(s) where appropriate for institutional and programmatic accreditors.

 

 

Family Medicine Clerkships

Yes.

Texas medical and osteopathic medical schools are encouraged to put the health and safety of their students in the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the requirement for Family Medicine Clerkships to be completed in the third year, as required by Texas Education Code §51.918 (d)(1) is temporarily waived, with the understanding that the institutions will reinstate the required clerkship when it is safe to do so. Institutions have maximum flexibility to educate students through remote learning to ensure that all learning outcomes are met.

 

 

Generic Clinical

Institutional administrators and faculty should refer to programmatic accreditors or licensing bodies for guidance and flexibility regarding practicum/clinical hours. For disciplines without accreditors/licensing bodies, institutions should exercise discretion in devising alternatives strategies for teaching and learning in practicum or clock hour experiences, including ACGM Academic Cooperatives courses at community colleges.

 

 

Graduate Program Review

Yes.

Texas public universities and health-related institutions may assess whether evaluating their doctoral programs using desk reviews, Skype, or other distance modalities would be prudent at this time. While THECB rules suggest that Texas public universities and health-related institutions should bring external reviewers to campus for a site visit, (TAC, Chapter 5, Rule 5.52 (c) (4), in light of the coronavirus, THECB will not require external reviewers be physically present on site. Conducting a review via Skype or another modality will suffice.

Institutions may request to reschedule their site visits to a later date and adjust their graduate program review submission date accordingly. If you would like to reschedule the submission of a graduate program review report, please contact James Goeman, at James.Goeman@thecb.state.tx.us or (512)427-6249.

 

 

Planning for Federal Reimbursement

Institutions of higher education may be eligible for FEMA reimbursement of certain costs associated with preparing for and responding to COVID-19. Such costs would likely be related to personnel and preparedness activities.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is the lead state agency for disaster response, and Chief W. Nim Kidd has offered his team's assistance in addressing any questions institutions have regarding disaster assistance. An important consideration is that cost tracking for authorized expenditures during the event is key to quick and accurate reimbursements. TDEM has published guidance on their website (https://tdem.texas.gov/local-officials-resources) to assist eligible jurisdictions in tracking eligible costs.

TDEM is also asking all jurisdictions to report any costs through their Disaster Summary Outline (DSO), so an institution would want to ensure they are reporting their costs to their city or county. If there are any questions, you can reach out to TDEM District Coordinator John O’Valle. His contact information is:

John.Ovalle@tdem.texas.gov
M:  956-227-0696

 

 

Room Capacity

No.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) is recommending that institutions do not change room capacity numbers for the summer and fall semesters due to reconfiguration of classrooms to address COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

We also understand this decision will affect class occupancy measures coming from the CBM005 (Building and Room Report - Fall Semesters only), which collects data reflecting building, room assignments, and class enrollment.

One of the uses of the CBM005 is to produce the Space Usage Efficiency (SUE) report which is used to measure classroom and class laboratory utilization, including actual seat utilization, by comparing the number of students in a classroom against the maximum capacity of the room. THECB staff is reviewing and considering options to mitigate or address any issues seen in the SUE report and scores due to the reporting of the maximum room capacity on the CBM011 and its subsequent use in capital project reviews or facilities audits.

 

Students in the Texas National Guard

On March 17, Governor Greg Abbott today activated the Texas National Guard to be prepared to assist with response efforts for COVID-19. Under Texas statute and rule, students who are guardsmen are entitled to certain protections when called to active military duty.

If a student guardsman is temporarily absent due to active service, Texas Education Code (TEC) 51.9111 requires a public institution to excuse the student from attending classes or other required activities. The student may not be penalized and must be allowed to complete assignments or take examinations within a reasonable time after the absence. Coordinating Board rules specify that a student may be excused for up to 25% of the total number of class meetings or the contact hours for the course.

If a student guardsman withdraws due to active military service, TEC 54.006(f) provides that the institution shall, at the student’s option:

  • refund the tuition and fees paid by the student for that semester;
  • grant an incomplete with a designation of “withdrawn-military” on the student’s transcript, or;
  • assign an appropriate final grade to a student who has completed a substantial amount of coursework.

Finally, TEC 51.9242 provides that a student guardsman who withdraws shall be readmitted within one year of completing their service, without reapplication or charging a fee. The institution shall provide the readmitted student with the same financial assistance and academic status they enjoyed prior to withdrawal.

 

 

Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Testing

All TSIA/TSIA2 trainings scheduled through May 31, 2020 have been cancelled. Staff at the College Board are currently working on rescheduling all sessions as well as exploring alternative delivery methods. All institutions will be notified with new training dates once they have been established.

 

Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Assessment and Summer 2020 Enrollment:

For non-exempt students enrolling at higher education institutions in summer 2020, institutions may use either of the following options, depending on other indicators of students’ level of preparation, such as HS GPA, HS course-taking, and non-cognitive factors:

  • Enroll the student in the college-level course as part of a corequisite model, in which case, we recommend the support component of the corequisite model be delivered as a non-course based option (NCBO), which includes flexibility for faculty to modify the required support for students who are doing well in the college course, as demonstrated via assessments and other relevant assignments; or
  • Utilize Rule 4.55(a) (Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 4, subchapter C) “exceptional circumstances” provision for an individual who has no access to TSI testing. Under the “exceptional circumstances” provision, an institution may permit a student to enroll in freshman-level academic coursework without assessment but shall require the student to be assessed not later than the end of the first semester of enrollment in entry-level freshman coursework.

These options for enrollment of non-exempt students will remain in effect through summer 2020 and the 2020-21 academic year.

For non-exempt high school students enrolling in dual credit courses at higher education institutions in summer 2020, institutions may use either of the following:

  • Adapt the same processes described above, to be consistent with eligibility and placement procedures used by the institution for other students, to ensure that dual credit students are prepared for college level courses; or
  • Where students are non-degree-seeking or non-certificate seeking students enrolling in individual courses, institutions may provide exemptions by utilizing Rule 4.54(b) (Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 4, subchapter C).

In all cases, institutions should ensure that their practices are consistent with SACSCOC standards and policy. In addition, if institutions of higher education opt to enroll a high school student in college-level course using a corequisite model, that option requires co-enrollment in a developmental education support course or NCBO aligned to the college course designed to help ensure the student’s success in the college course. However, the developmental education component of the corequisite model is not eligible for state appropriations (TAC, Chapter 9, Subchapter H, Rule §9.146).

These options for enrollment of non-exempt students will remain in effect through summer 2020 and the 2020-21 academic year.

 

THECB Grant Programs

The safety of students, faculty, and the public is paramount. THECB will work with institutional grant recipients to ensure that grant funded projects can be accomplished, as appropriate. THECB will work with institutions so deadlines can be adjusted as needed to allow grant recipients to do the work they need to do.

The safety of students, faculty, and the public is paramount. Where practicable, grantees should move their project or activities to an online format for the remainder of the grant period.

In instances when institutions close (temporarily cease to offer instruction in any format for the remainder of the payment period) or when the project or activity is unable to convert to an online format for the remainder of the grant period, institutions may request grant/contract extensions. THECB will work with institutions so deadlines can be adjusted as needed to allow grant recipients to do the work they need to do.

Institutions may apply this guidance to THECB programs funded by state appropriations (i.e., Developmental Education, Advise TX, GradTX, Generation TX).


Inquiries should be directed to Mary.Smith@highered.texas.gov