Reporter’s notebook

Photo: Matthew Dembicki

  • CDC updates guidance for colleges
  • Changing their education plans
  • Dems urge HHS to share info on health insurance coverage

CDC updates guidance for colleges

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its safety guidance to curb the spread of the coronavirus as colleges reopen their campuses.

The guidance covers:

  • Promoting behaviors that reduce spread, such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, signs and messages.
  • Maintaining healthy environments, which covers cleaning and disinfection, ventilation, water systems and modified layouts.
  • Maintaining healthy operation, such as regulatory awareness, gatherings, travel and transit, designated COVID-19 point of contact, participating in community response efforts and communication systems.
  • Preparing for when someone gets sick, which covers isolating and transporting those who are ill, cleaning and disinfecting, and notifying health officials and close contacts.

“These considerations are meant to supplement — not replace — any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which IHEs (institutions of higher education) must comply,” CDC said.

Changing their education plans

About two-thirds of young adults ages 18 to 24 have canceled or changed their education plans, according to the latest information from an on-going survey by Strada Education Network.

A further breakdown shows that 22 percent of adults in that age group have canceled plans, with 43 percent changing their plans. Among a broader age range — adults ages 18 to 64 — 34 percent have canceled or changed education plans. Twenty percent of these adults changed plans and 14 percent canceled them.

The survey also shows that traditional and nontraditional college-age adults are equally likely to enroll in courses or training over the next six months — 35 percent among Americans ages 25 to 44, compared to 32 percent among those ages 18 to 24.

The information is based on responses from more than 8,000 adults participating in the survey, which is updated weekly and tracks the impact of the pandemic on American lives, work and education.

Dems urge HHS to share info on health insurance coverage

Democratic leaders on the House and Senate education committees are asking the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to help more than 14 million displaced college students keep their health insurance coverage.

In a May 19 letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Rep. Bobby Scott (Virginia), chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray (Washington), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said many students who rely on health insurance plans sponsored by their colleges or universities may face a break in coverage as the institutions remain closed due to the pandemic. The lawmakers are also concerned that HHS has declined to create a broader open-enrollment period that would allow those in sudden need of healthcare to obtain coverage.

“Informing college students about the full range of available health coverage opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic is not only of paramount importance to ensuring their health and safety, but also the health and safety of the communities in which they reside during this pandemic,” the Democrats wrote.

They urged HHS to work with states to ensure self-funded student health insurance plans inform covered students about their current COVID-19 testing and treatment coverage. They also asked Azar to work with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to ensure that students and their families are aware of their healthcare coverage options.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.