CEA COVID-19 FAQ

  • CEA response to COVID-19
  • Site Visits
  • Self-study Report
  • Extension of Temporary Changes
  • Extension of Hiatus
  • Workshop
  • Reporting Requirements
  • Fees
  • Online courses
  • Assessments
  • End term of accreditation
  • Other

On March 11, 2020, CEA released a Statement on COVID-19 which requires all accredited programs and language institutions to report changes made in response to or as a result of the pandemic. The CEA workshops scheduled for March were cancelled. On March 16, CEA began to postpone or reschedule Winter 2020 cycle site visits. On March 17, CEA staff in Alexandria began teleworking. The April 2020 Commission meeting was held virtually. CEA has been actively monitoring the status of the pandemic and its effects on accredited sites in various locales, and is keeping abreast of actions and guidance published by federal and state agencies and other accreditors.

Note:  To read the answers to questions, click on the topic in the menu on the left.

Is CEA conducting site visits?      

Beginning in mid-March 2020, site visits have been rescheduled or postponed within CEA’s existing policies. In cases where a site visit cannot take place, CEA attempts to reschedule the visit with the same review team. CEA does not currently perform virtual site visits.

What should I do if I have questions about an upcoming site visit?

Site visit scheduling is handled by the Accreditation Review Manager, Melissa Van De Wege. If you have unanswered questions about an upcoming visit, please contact Melissa directly at mvandewege@cea-accredit.org.

How should I report information about COVID-19 in my self-study report?

In Part I. Site Overview, describe any actions taken as a result of or in response to COVID-19 in Section E. Other. You may also include specific details about aspects of your program or language institution in the responses to relevant standards. Any questions about your self-study report can be addressed directly to Rachel Herman, Accreditation Process and Technology Manager, at rherman@cea-accredit.org.

Do I need to update CEA if changes continue past a certain date?

If the period of temporary changes to instruction has extended beyond the date originally reported to CEA, please send an update to compliance@cea-accredit.org, explaining the ways in which the educational program has been adapted, and the projected date of resuming normal delivery of the program, if available. 

How long does CEA consider “temporary” to be?

Based on the broad permissions granted to accreditors by the US Department of Education, CEA will consider changes to delivery of the educational program to be temporary, provided they are as a result of or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, that changes are reported to CEA as being temporary, and that the program or language institution intends to return to delivering the educational program as accredited after the need for alternative approaches has passed. If you have questions about the duration of your planned accommodations, please contact CEA at compliance@cea-accredit.org.

What if we develop and deliver a different program?

If the educational program is considered to be a temporary adjustment as a result of or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the new program does not need to be reported as a substantive change. Rather, an update should be sent to compliance@cea-accredit.org. If the change is to be permanent, please inform CEA and we will advise you regarding the need to report it as a substantive change in keeping with CEA’s established policies.

What if we have suspended classes or there are no enrolled students for a period of more than 4 months? 

CEA’s existing policies allow any site to take a 4-month hiatus based on CEA’s 8-months/year operational requirement for eligibility. If there is a hiatus of fewer than 4 months, CEA must be notified. CEA’s existing policies also allow for possible limited extensions to a period of hiatus by making a request to the Executive Director. CEA has developed an application form to document these requests. Please send the 2020 CEA Application for Extended Hiatus to Samantha Robotham, Administrative Assistant, at srobotham@cea-accredit.org. After review, an official letter of hiatus will be issued, if approved.

What is the status of the Reviewer Training Workshop scheduled in June? 

CEA has opted to cancel the summer Reviewer Training Workshop. The next in-person training is scheduled for October 22-23, 2020. If you have questions about becoming a reviewer, please see https://cea-accredit.org/reviewers/become-a-reviewer.

What is the status of the Accreditation Workshop scheduled in July? 

All registrants for CEA’s March Accreditation Workshop had their registration transferred to the July workshop. CEA staff is currently reviewing options for delivery of the July accreditation workshop. If you have questions about how a workshop delay may affect your accreditation or reaccreditation timeline, please contact Rachel Herman, Accreditation Process and Technology Manager, at rherman@cea-accredit.org.

I have upcoming reporting requirements due. Has CEA changed the reporting due dates?

In general, CEA has not changed reporting due dates. If you have concerns about being able to respond by the established deadline, or if you have questions about how to account for COVID-19-related changes to operations or delivery of your program in your response, please contact Masha Vassilieva, Director of Compliance, at mvassilieva@cea-accredit.org.

What will happen if I can’t collect data or provide evidence of implementation as a result of temporary changes to delivery of my program?

In most cases, we expect sites will file on time, and, in cases where more time is needed to reflect regular operations on site, the reporting requirement will be reissued with a new deadline. Please contact Masha Vassilieva, Director of Compliance, at mvassilieva@cea-accredit.org with any questions you have about responding to reporting requirements.

Is CEA planning to reduce fees?

CEA does not plan to adjust its 2020 published fees this year. Review of the Fee Schedule is undertaken by the Commission in August each year for the following year; fees are established following detailed analysis of the basis of each fee. Any future fee schedules will be published on the CEA website.

Does CEA have payment options or offer a payment plan? 

If you have outstanding payments due to CEA, please contact Joy Cook, Director of Finance and Operations, to discuss options at finance@cea-accredit.org.

Does CEA have any guidelines for remote instruction?

As a mission-based accreditor, CEA does not promote or prescribe specific curricula, methods, materials, software or learning management systems. Professional or membership organizations, publishers, and technology providers have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a variety of resources. The CEA Standards for English Language Programs and Institutions include references to distance education, but CEA does not have separate standards for online education.

Can we admit new students to our fully online program?

Yes. As the period of adjustment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has extended in many areas, enrolling new students in existing educational programs is permissible. Regarding admission of initial students, CEA considers online enrollment to be a temporary change and that students would enroll in face-to-face classes as soon as is practical. All sites are expected to maintain compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Can CEA accredit online courses or programs?

CEA is able to grant broad permission for online instruction as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, CEA does not have distance education within its scope of recognition through the USDE and cannot (under normal circumstances) accredit programs which are fully online. As a result, you would not be able to offer the program entirely online after a return to normal operations.

Can we add online programs to our accreditation in the future?

CEA does not have distance education within its scope of recognition through the USDE and therefore cannot accredit fully online programs, though CEA is able to accredit some programs where the online part of the program is less than 50%, under some circumstances. Note that sites which hold programmatic accreditation with CEA may be able to offer online programs provided they fall outside of the scope of accreditation. For questions about how to add online courses to the grant of accreditation, please contact Masha Vassilieva, Director of Compliance, at mvassilieva@cea-accredit.org.

Can we continue offering online courses in the fall 2020 while also running some face-to-face classes?

Yes, provided certain conditions are met. CEA considers online enrollment to be a temporary change and that students would enroll in face-to-face classes as soon as is practical. What is practical will differ for each site based on the local regulations, sufficient classroom space for appropriate social distancing, and many other considerations. CEA expects sites to develop their own reopening plans and would allow concurrent in-person/virtual classes in fall 2020, provided that (1) the site reports appropriately to compliance@cea-accredit.org and (2) the site maintains compliance with applicable laws and regulations including SEVP requirements.

Can we change the weighting of our grading categories?

Yes, as a temporary adjustment to the educational program as a result of or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, programs or language institutions may adapt the grading categories used to determine progression. Sites are expected to maintain records of changes made to grading categories, and it is recommended that assessment and progression data be tracked in such a way to reflect this period of changes made as a result of or in response to COVID-19.

Can we change the kinds of assessments we use?

As long as the changes are temporary (even for an extended time) as a result of or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes are not considered to be reportable substantive changes. If you are considering permanent changes, please review CEA’s Substantive Change Guidelines. When a change is under consideration, CEA staff should be consulted to determine whether it is a substantive or minor change and whether a substantive change report must be filed, and to assess how the change will affect the program or institution in terms of meeting the CEA Standards. Please contact Masha Vassilieva, Director of Compliance at mvassilieva@cea-accredit.org.

Is CEA planning to change or extend end dates of accreditation as a result of COVID-19?

CEA has no current plans to adjust review timelines or procedures as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the US Department of Education has granted broad permissions to accrediting agencies “to extend accreditation terms or provide additional good cause extensions… to enable institutions and programs to continue serving students during COVID-19 related interruptions of regular campus operations.” In the event that timelines are adjusted, the Commission must approve amendments to current procedures which must be published online.

What if my site is due for an accreditation decision?

CEA Policies and Procedures allow for an extension of a period of accreditation by one cycle under certain circumstances, due to CEA’s scheduling constraints or unexpected circumstances at the site.  The CEA Executive Director may approve the extension of the accredited status for one cycle, that is, until the next Commission meeting at which the site can be reviewed. To request an extension or discuss options, please contact Heidi Vellenga, Executive Director at hvellenga@cea-accredit.org.

I have a question that isn’t on the FAQ. What should I do?            

Please send a message with your question to CEA at info@cea-accredit.org. Your response will be forwarded to the appropriate CEA staff member for a response.