COVID-19 Update

I wanted to give you all an update on what the Government Relations team is working on and hearing related to the COVID-19 situation. We know this is a very challenging time for everybody and we hope all of you are healthy and working to stay safe. We are monitoring very closely what the State and Federal governments are doing to respond to COVID-19, working with those who represent us, and continuing to serve as your liaison to government as needed.

COVID-19 Update

March 17, 2020

I wanted to give you all an update on what the Government Relations team is working on and hearing related to the COVID-19 situation. We know this is a very challenging time for everybody and we hope all of you are healthy and working to stay safe. We are monitoring very closely what the State and Federal governments are doing to respond to COVID-19, working with those who represent us, and continuing to serve as your liaison to government as needed.

Federal research agencies are still functioning, albeit at reduced staffing levels and with additional restrictions consistent with the latest public health guidance. The NIH has published an FAQ regarding proposal submission and award management related to COVID-19. The bottom line is that NIH funding will still flow, but they are increasingly utilizing virtual reviews and avoiding in-person site visits. The NSF has instituted similar new protocols, which they have published here. The Department of Education has also issued guidance related to interruptions of study related to Coronavirus and some common questions related to Title IV compliance.

We are also tracking Congress’ progress on stimulus measures closely. As you have probably heard, the first stimulus package, which was aimed mostly at increasing testing and vaccine research and development capacity and providing resources to state and local public health agencies, was recently passed and signed by the President. Congressional leaders and the White House are currently negotiating a second stimulus package with additional measures aimed at businesses and workers, and we expect additional stimulus measures in the future. Congress also is attempting to continue their work on FY2021 funding bill, but this crisis will slow that process down. We will keep you apprised of developments on this front and the impact on higher education as they happen.

At the state level, as I’m sure most of you have heard, Governor Baker has placed restrictions on gatherings larger than 25 people, and closed bars, restaurants, and all K-12 schools for three weeks. We are in close touch with state officials about what other measures might be taken down the road and what the implications of these current restrictions are on the Northeastern community. We’re also tracking closely what steps the legislature might take on smaller scale statewide stimulus measures, changes to unemployment benefits, etc. We’ll keep you all abreast of any relevant news on these fronts.

Lastly, if you have any questions about the public policy or regulatory implications of the changes to our learning and research structure or if you encounter issues that need clarification from the federal or state government or require some change given the current circumstances, please reach out. We’re in unchartered territory right now, but we’ve found that the federal and state officials we’re interacting with, including our congressional delegations, want to hear about problems as they arise. We can’t promise we’ll get a solution, but we will make sure your concerns are on their radar in the hopes they will be addressed. GR is here to help.