General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The information on this page is updated regularly.
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 Ginger Gossman at Ginger.Gossman@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.
COVID-19 is still affecting the ability of institutional PRT representatives and staff from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to participate in onsite facilities audits. At this time, we anticipate resuming PRT facilities audits in Spring 2022. We will reach out to institutions to schedule these audits at a later date. The Cycle 3 Audit Schedule will be posted on the Facilities Inventory and Audit webpage when the audit cycle resumes.
Family Medicine Clerkships
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.
Graduate Program Review
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:
Will the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board require institutions to update their room capacities in the CBM011 (Facilities Room Inventory Report) on Item #17 – “Student Station Capacity” (maximum room capacity) to reflect any social distancing requirements that institutions instituted during the 2020-21 academic year and Fall 2021?
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) is recommending that institutions do not change room capacity numbers for the 2020-21 academic year or Fall 2021 due to reconfiguration of classrooms to address COVID-19 social distancing requirements.
Since this guidance also affects class occupancy measures, collection of the CBM005 reports for Fall 2020 or Fall 2021 would not yield accurate data to produce a new Space Usage Efficiency (SUE) report. Therefore, the THECB will not collect the CBM005 Report from institutions for Fall 2020 or for Fall 2021. THECB staff intend to use the last published SUE report (February 2020), which uses data submitted in Fall 2019 for facility project review and facilities audits. We will provide guidance on when the CBM005 will need to be submitted in the future.
Students in the Texas National Guard
On March 17, Governor Greg Abbott 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
Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Assessment and AY 2020-2021 and AY 2021-2022 Enrollments:
For non-exempt students enrolling at higher education institutions, 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 for placements through the 2020-2021 and 2021-22 academic years.
For non-exempt high school students enrolling in dual credit courses through higher education institutions, institutions may use either of the following:
- Consider and adapt, as applicable, the processes described above 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 for high school students (TAC, Chapter 9, Subchapter H, Rule §9.146).
These options for enrollment of non-exempt students will remain in effect for placements through the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years.
Yes, the current TSI waivers have been extended for one year, through AY 2021-2022.
THECB Grant Programs
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 Ginger.Gossman@highered.texas.gov.