We have entered a new phase in the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
We no longer wake up every day to increasing numbers of deaths, infections, and reminders about social distancing and vaccine shortages. Instead, we now read about record low numbers of infections, limited fatalities, and a domestic surplus of vaccine so large that we are now vaccinating children as young as 12 and may be exporting it by June.
And, just last week, the CDC dispensed with mask guidance for vaccinated people. This prompted President Biden to host his first “maskless” appearance of his presidency. For college leaders planning the summer and fall semesters, it’s a 180-degree turnaround that we were afraid to hope for just last year.
Yet here we are. The question now vexing colleges is how to safely reopen on-ground learning with a pandemic in retreat. It’s a nice problem to have, but it still has to be solved.
To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris partner Edward M. Cramp, please visit the University Business website.
A common question for colleges today is whether to reduce tuition prices if they cannot provide on-campus classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The short answer, both legally and morally, is that colleges should not charge students for services they cannot or do not deliver.
The ultimate answer is more complex and requires a disaggregating analysis of the services that that were included in the price of tuition, including a review of the value associated with in-person interactions.
To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris partner Tony Guida, please visit the University Business website.
Hiring season is fraught with questions and uncertainties; preparing employment applications; interviewing, drafting offer letters….. What questions can be asked? What questions should be asked? These concerns are even more pronounced when it comes to immigration status, and immigration sponsorship. Those tasked with the hiring process often ask, whether it is legal to ask applicants about their immigration status, how to ask that question, and even more important, “Do we have to sponsor for immigration status if the applicant needs it?” Continue reading “University Hiring Season is Here: Immigration Questions and Strategies”
On July 14, 2020, the Trump Administration rescinded SEVP guidance issued last week, which forbid F-1 students from attending universities that were planning to be 100% remote during the fall 2020 semester. With the rescission, schools may now revert to following the SEVP March 9 Broadcast Message: Coronavirus Disease 2019 and the March 13 COVID-19: Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders . Continue reading “Remote Study Ban on Foreign Students Rescinded after Unprecedented Pressure from University and Business Community”
Authors: Julie Mebane, Partner (Real Estate) and Katherine Brodie, Partner (Higher Education)
Nothing is more unwelcome than a big surprise after your institution has invested hours and dollars in a new instructional location. Up front due diligence is essential, and it needs to identify issues that may impair your ability to operate at a new location or expose the institution to significant liabilities. Be sure to consider the following and utilize counsel well versed in college and university property acquisitions and applicable regulations to examine any problems you may encounter:
- What is the zoning of the property? Is there a zoning report that can be reviewed (if not, consider ordering one)? Does the property have the number of parking spaces required by law or local ordinances?
- Are there any CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) recorded against the property? Get and review copies to make sure they don’t prohibit any intended uses.
- Is there a conditional use permit (CUP) or planned development permit affecting the property? If so, review this for any use restrictions.
- What is the current condition of the property and the physical plant? Check for current building permits, and consider getting a professional inspection report on the building’s systems.
- Does the current owner have a title policy covering the property? Important information about the location and its history can be gained from this document.
- Does the owner have a Phase 1 environmental assessment regarding any hazardous materials at the location? Request and review this for possible issues, and keep it as a baseline in case of future problems.
- Are there any litigation or condemnation actions that have been filed relating to the property? These can be red flags for any future owner or occupant.
- Is the property in a designated flood zone, near an earthquake fault line, or otherwise located in an area exposed to natural disasters? Natural hazard disclosure reports can be obtained without much expense.
- Was the property previously used by an institution participating in U.S. Department of Education Title IV federal student aid programs and did that institution close with unpaid liabilities owed to the Department? If so, moving into that space by lease or purchase could expose your institution to assumption of the unpaid liabilities of the previous owner.
- Do you know your state, accreditor and Department of Education reporting obligations? These agencies must generally be notified of any change of location or any new space where more than 50% of an eduational program will be offered, or the institution risks liability for all Title IV funds disbursed to students at the new location and potentially other regulatory sanctions.
Most of these questions can be answered with the help of a forthcoming landlord when negotiating a new lease and with the assistance of experienced counsel. If the property is being purchased, the seller is likely required by law to make certain representations and warranties and to disclose property-related information and materials during the buyer’s due diligence period.
So don’t be surprised – get the information you need before you commit to a new campus or instructional location.