COPRA Statement on COVID-19

March 19, 2020

Dear colleagues,

Together, we are facing an unprecedented, global public health crisis demanding the prioritization of the health and safety of our colleagues, students, and families. As we navigate the evolving situation, the importance of our role as public service educators is unmistakeable and COPRA takes seriously its role in supporting each accredited program during this time. 

NASPAA, COPRA, and accredited programs, are bound through the accreditation process by a commitment to public service values and continuous improvement, ensuring that students and faculty are well-served and successful. This commitment distinguishes our programs, and we are confident in your ability to continue supporting your communities by embracing your strengths even while adapting to the unknown. We encourage you to rely on the NASPAA community for support, reflect on learning opportunities, and continue to find innovative ways to promote public service education and student success.

COPRA understands the fast evolving nature of university responses to the pandemic and acknowledges that in response to the public health crisis most programs are imminently moving to distance learning, canceling important events, and managing large-scale changes to course delivery and faculty and student engagement. As programs and universities grapple with how to best respond, we are sensitive to the extenuating circumstances surrounding these decisions and supportive of moves that place student and faculty health and safety at the forefront. The Standards are designed to be flexible to accommodate varying contexts, missions, and changing situations like this one. 

In the context of current and anticipated academic disruptions, COPRA wishes to highlight several Standards (below) that are immediately linked to the evolving situation. While COPRA has only highlighted some of the NASPAA Standards, it recognizes that university responses to COVID-19 will be varied, student-centric, and will impact programs across all aspects of delivery. This is a unique circumstance and COPRA is mindful of this, anticipating that these impacts will be focused on the short- and medium-terms and that programs will be able to adapt strategically while ensuring conformance to the Standards and student success in the long term.

We will continue to monitor official guidance about the response to COVID-19 and be mindful of how it is impacting accredited programs. (For more on NASPAA's response, refer here). This is a critical time for our society and we are honored to be supporting a field that is so deeply embedded in educating the public servants guiding us through this time.

Please contact with any questions.


Maja H. Holmes

Chair, Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA)


Standard 2.1 Administrative Capacity: The program will have an administrative infrastructure appropriate for its mission, goals and objectives in all delivery modalities employed. 

Standard 2.2 Faculty Governance: An adequate faculty nucleus—at least five (5) full-time faculty members or their equivalent—will exercise substantial determining influence for the Self-Study Instructions – governance and implementation of the program.

COPRA recognizes that many, if not most, decisions regarding responses to COVID-19 will be made by the university. As decisions are implemented at the program level, the Commission emphasizes that the governance arrangement, including administrative leadership, should ensure the ongoing integrity of the program. Because program nucleus faculty members have deep knowledge of their program and a commitment to participatory processes, they also should play a significant role in the governance and execution of the program. 

Standard 4.3 - Support for Students: The program will ensure the availability of support services, such as curriculum advising, internship placement and supervision, career counseling, and job placement assistance to enable students to progress in careers in public service.

Programs should maintain transparent and accessible support for students, especially as there are changes to program delivery and course expectations. These changes may necessitate additional or new support services be available to students to help navigate any academic disruptions, and programs should consider how to ensure the necessary resources and guidance are available to students. Programs should continue to provide services that help students achieve their educational, internship and career objectives. 

Standard 7.1 - Communications: The program will provide appropriate and current information about its mission, policies, practices, and accomplishments—including student learning outcomes--sufficient to inform decisions by its stakeholders such as prospective and current students; faculty; employers of current students and graduates; university administrators; alumni; and accrediting agencies.

When communicating with stakeholders, programs should be transparent, accountable, and truthful, and this is especially important during a rapidly evolving public health outbreak. Programs should be sure to exemplify the public service value of transparency in programmatic actions.