ED Review (08/19/22)

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August 19, 2022


Back to School 

Over the past 18 months, driven by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and a comprehensive COVID-19 response, the Biden Administration provided schools with unprecedented resources to reopen safely.  As a result, nearly all schools were open this past school year.  Now, as students, educators, and staff ready for another school year, every school has the tools that it needs to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and its impact, open safely and stay open all year long, and ensure that students are learning in the classroom full-time. 

A new White House fact sheet lays out key guidance and supports for protecting students, employees, and school communities this upcoming school year, including:

  • using COVID-19 vaccines and boosters as the first line of defense to protect in-person learning;
  • providing robust access to COVID-19 testing at schools to help detect infection early; and
  • improving indoor air quality throughout school buildings. 

“Today, we have more tools & knowledge to protect ourselves from COVID-19,” Secretary Cardona emphasized in a tweet.  “I’m confident that, with the support of the [ARP] and other federal resources, we can keep our children safe and healthy and make this school year the best one yet.” 

In a separate White House fact sheet, the Administration announced new actions to strengthen school-based mental health services and address the youth mental health crisis.  First, it is beginning to distribute almost $300 million appropriated through the Fiscal Year 2022 bipartisan omnibus agreement and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to help schools hire more school-based mental health professionals and build a strong pipeline into the profession for the upcoming school year.  Second, in a joint letter to governors, the Secretaries of Education and Health and Human Services spotlight efforts to improve the delivery of health care in schools and make sure children enrolled in Medicaid have access to comprehensive services, as required by law. 

Follow @USAGov and @usedgov throughout the month for tips and resources for students, parents, and educators. 


All About Higher Education 

It has been busy on the higher education front, too. 

First and foremost, the Department announced it will discharge all remaining federal student loans that borrowers received to attend ITT Technical Institute from January 1, 2005, through its closure in September 2016.  The decision, which follows agency findings based on extensive internal records, testimony from ITT managers and recruiters, and first-hand accounts from borrowers, will result in 208,000 borrowers receiving $3.9 billion in complete loan discharges.  This includes those who have not yet applied for a Borrower Defense to Repayment discharge.  The Department also announced it had formally notified DeVry University it is required to pay millions of dollars for approved borrower defense applications and approved discharges for just under 100 borrowers enrolled in the medical assistant or medical billing and coding program at Kaplan Career Institute’s Kenmore Square location in Massachusetts from July 1, 2011, to February 16, 2012 (when the institution stopped enrolling new students).  Combined, these actions raise the total amount of loan relief approved by the Biden Administration to nearly $32 billion (Twitter thread). 

Also, the Department hosted the Raise the B.A.R. (Bold + Action + Results) in College Excellence and Equity Summit, where Secretary Cardona outlined his vision for the future of higher education and revealed actions the agency is taking to support college completion.  These actions will support institutions engaging students who withdrew from school during the pandemic, as well as those working toward degree completion.  The summit featured the participation of more than 40 higher education leaders sharing their experiences in reforming higher education to promote strong student outcomes (photos, video excerpt, and Secretary’s op-ed). 

Furthermore, the Department released proposed regulations to implement critical changes in the ARP that better protect servicemembers and veterans from being subject to aggressive targeting practices by requiring private, for-profit institutions to obtain at least 10% of their revenue from non-federal sources.  The rules would also strength the requirements for schools undergoing changes in ownership, including with respect to for-profit institutions seeking to convert to non-profit status.  And, the rules would clarify how incarcerated individuals may access federal Pell Grants for qualifying prison education programs operated by public and non-profit entities.  These regulations were negotiated by two committees of stakeholders last year and reflect significant input from the community and consensus agreements among negotiators.  The public is invited to provide comment through August 26 (press release, fact sheet, and Twitter thread). 

Finally, the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office issued information on “Fresh Start,” an initiative to eliminate the negative effects for borrowers who defaulted on their federal student loans prior to the pandemic payment pause.  Among other features, this initiative restores federal student aid eligibility to some 7.5 million borrowers (as of May 31, 2022) to help them complete their credential or degree.  These borrowers will also have the chance to enroll in an income-driven repayment plan or access other repayment options that suit their needs (fact sheet). 


Summer Learning 

This week, the Secretary traveled to Orangeburg, South Carolina, with House Majority Whip James Clyburn to meet with Historically Black College and University (HBCU) leaders from across the state and speak directly with students from South Carolina State University (photos). 

Also this week, he traveled to New York City with U.S. Representatives Grace Meng and Nydia Velazquez to visit a summer learning program and hear more about how community schools have supported pandemic recovery efforts (photos 1 and 2). 

While in New York, the Secretary discussed school readiness and teacher shortages during three different television appearances: CBS Mornings, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and CNN’s New Day. 

He also shared digitally several examples of creative ways school communities are using federal support to help students thrive, including an #InnovatED story on how Marietta High School in Georgia started evening school hours to accommodate students’ alternate schedules. 

And, he joined Vice President Harris for a roundtable discussion with college and university leaders about the fight to protect the health, safety, and well-being of students following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs (readout). 


The Secretary praised the 2022 President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) recipients, saluting elementary, middle, and high school graduates on their educational accomplishments.  Since 1983, PEAP has bestowed individual recognition from the President to students whose outstanding efforts have enabled them to meet challenging standards of excellence.  School principals determine the number of qualifying students; there is no limit, as long as students meet the selection criteria.  Students receive a certificate and congratulatory letter signed by the President and the Secretary of Education.  This year, due to global supply chain issues, the Department was unable to print hard copies but posted all materials for download (press release, Department’s tweet, and Secretary’s tweet). 

Also, representatives from the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees were celebrated in a special ceremony at the Department last month (blog post and video). 


On August 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) streamlined its COVID-19 guidance to make it easier for schools to assess their risk and take necessary actions to protect students and staff.  Specifically, the latest “Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning” removes prior recommendations for cohorting, quarantine, and Test to Stay procedures and limits recommendations for screening testing to certain high-risk situations when the COVID-19 Community Level is high or in response to an outbreak.  It also has detailed information on masking, managing cases and exposures, and responding to outbreaks (press release). 

“The updated guidance from the CDC should give our students, parents, and educators the confidence they need to head back to school this year with a sense of joy and optimism,” Secretary Cardona noted in a statement.  “While COVID-19 continues to evolve, so has our understanding of the science and what it takes to return to school safely.  Thanks to vaccines, boosters, new treatments, and common sense safety precautions -- as well as funding from the [ARP] -- our schools have more resources than ever before to provide the learning environments our students need to grow and thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.” 

Meanwhile, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the latest round of findings from the School Pulse Survey (Secretary’s statement). 



We need a culture change in higher education, NOW!  We must stop conflating selectivity with excellence.  We must stop correlating prestige with privilege.  We must embrace a new vision of college excellence….  Together, let’s build a higher education system that serves a higher purpose, one that levels the playing field in a country that can best be described by the word ‘possibilities,’ as President Biden always says.  Let’s confer prestige on the colleges breaking cycles of poverty.  Let’s raise the profiles of institutions delivering real upward mobility…  Let’s turn the universities that walk the walk on equity into household names.” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (8/11/22), on his vision for the future of higher education from the Raise the B.A.R. in College Excellence and Equity Summit 


All are invited to a special webinar on August 24, at 4 p.m. Eastern Time, to learn about proven strategies to improve attendance in the first three months of school. 

FSA will host a webinar on submitting the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) form on August 24 at 8 p.m. ET and a live audio conversation with three PSLF experts on August 25 at 7 p.m. ET. 

Join the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and NCES for a virtual event on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Long-Term Trend results for nine-year-olds on September 1 at 1:30 p.m. ET. 

On September 6, at 3 p.m. ET, a Campaign for Grade-Level Reading-sponsored webinar will take a look at the National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS) Initiative, with national organizers discussing implementation and local leaders sharing how they plan to leverage the resources to expand programming in the 2022-23 school year. 

Join the Student Privacy Policy Office through its Privacy Technical Assistance Center for a special three-day virtual summit (September 7, 14, and 21) on data security and cybersecurity at K-12 schools. 

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