• CEA response to COVID-19
  • Site visits
  • Self-study report
  • Extension of temporary changes
  • Extension of hiatus
  • Workshops
  • Reporting requirements
  • Fees
  • Distance education
  • 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. In June 2020, the Commission approved three temporary policies that allow CEA to conduct hybrid site visits, extend eligibility during extended periods of hiatus, and extend the current period of accreditation by up to 3 cycles (one year). These policies will remain in place until revoked or rescinded by the Commission. 

Provisions and requirements set forth in the CEA Statement on COVID-19 remain in place until further notice. Based on guidance from federal agencies, temporary flexibilities for recognized accreditors remain in place until “the last date that the national emergency is in effect.” As a result, CEA requires notification rather than formal substantive change reporting for changes made as a result of or in response to the pandemic.


Updated July 26, 2021

Is CEA conducting site visits?      

Yes, CEA continues to conduct in-person and virtual reviews as the first part of a 2-part Hybrid Site Visit. A follow-up in-person visit is required within a year of the accreditation decision.

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.

Sites are required to notify CEA of procedural or operational changes made as a result of, or in response to, COVID-19 through notifications by email to compliance@cea-accredit.org.

Do I need to continue to update CEA?

If additional changes are made, 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 staff will advise you regarding the need to report it as a substantive change in keeping with CEA’s established policies. For questions about whether or not a planned change is considered substantive, please contact Masha Vassilieva, Director of Compliance, at mvassilieva@cea-accredit.org.

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 an up-to-4-month hiatus with notification to CEA. 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 2022 CEA Application for Extended Hiatus to info@cea-accredit.org. After review, an official letter of hiatus will be issued, if approved by the Commission.

What is the status of the Reviewer Training Workshop? 

CEA delivers the Reviewer Training Workshop virtually and may hold in-person workshops again. Accepted candidates will be invited to participate in the virtual Reviewer Training Workshop. For information about becoming a reviewer, please see https://cea-accredit.org/reviewers/become-a-reviewer.

What is the status of the Accreditation Workshop? 

Staff delivers the Accreditation Workshop in-person and via web-conferencing platforms. Delivery mode and workshop dates are published on the CEA website at https://cea-accredit.org/accreditation/workshops. If you have questions about how workshop attendance 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?

CEA expects sites to file on time, but will consider extension requests on a case-by-case basis. In cases where more time is needed to collect data or evidence of implementation related to 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 did not increase fees for 2023. Review of the Fee Schedule is undertaken by the Commission in August each year for the following year. The 2023 Fee Schedule is published on the CEA website.

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?

Regarding admission of initial students, CEA considers online enrollment to be a temporary adaptation 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. In the future, CEA will be able to accredit programs which are fully online.

Can we add online programs to our accreditation?

Yes. Procedures for permanent approval of distance education involves filing a substantive change report. For questions about how to permanently add online courses to the grant of accreditation, please contact Masha Vassilieva, Director of Compliance, at mvassilieva@cea-accredit.org.

Note for US-based sites certified by SEVP, a “virtual only” program will not likely be eligible for certification.

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 make blanket adjustments to review timelines or procedures as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.” An extension to the period of accreditation under the Section 23 Temporary Policy Adaptations requires a formal written request to Heidi Vellenga, Executive Director, at hvellenga@cea-accredit.org.

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.