NASPAA Policies Regarding COVID-19
Revision August 1, 2021
We are a global community of 320 schools of public governance and administration, and we are training the next generation of public servant for a changed world. We raise up everyone around the world who is working for the public good at this unprecedented time, especially those addressing social, racial, and global inequities in COVID incidence and response.
The Coronavirus pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty to NASPAA, and NASPAA staff have worked hard to keep NASPAA, and NASPAA events and processes, operating through this. We are doing our best to help our schools and faculty and students keep learning and doing—and to find new ways of supporting them as conduct online instruction, participate in virtual site visits with us, ponder re-opening to in person learning, and deal with many challenges.
As of June 1, 2021, NASPAA moved its status from a public emergency closure of our headquarters office to observing a phased reopening. NASPAA staff were asked to return in person to NASPAA’s offices at 1029 Vermont Ave NW for at least two days per week. Staff have been asked to a) indicate on the NASPAA google calendar which days they will be in the office at least 2 weeks in advance whenever possible, and b) to schedule their days in the office to coincide with team meetings, events that will most benefit from in-person participation, and staff meeting/events.
This decision, made in consultation with the Executive Committee, was based on the vaccination status of NASPAA staff, data on vaccination rates and cases per hundred thousand in DC/MD/VA and other directives from the DC/MD/VA public health officials. We anticipate fully re-opening the office at some point in future: staff will be consulted and membership advised. Conversely, if cases return to high levels, or if vaccination effectiveness is affected by new variants or other unanticipated events, the Executive Director in consultation with the Executive Committee may revert to a virtual office.
Effective August 1, 2021, the DC government is REQUIRING all individuals to wear masks indoors, whether they are vaccinated or not. NASPAA is complying with this mandate and will require all staff to wear masks in NASPAA’s office until this order is rescinded. Because all NASPAA staff currently have individual offices, staff may remove their masks within their own office, but should wear masks in public areas, including the conference room, when meeting with other staff precludes social distancing.
NASPAA continues the request for only one person to use the restroom at a time. (This mask mandate supersedes the July 1 relaxation of masks inside. On June 15, 2021, following the DC mayor’s inside mask mandate, and with the cases per 100,000 below 2, NASPAA began permitting all vaccinated staff members not to wear masks in their office, and in 11th floor public spaces and conference rooms. Based on experience and staff feedback, this policy was being formally adopted, beginning July 1, 2021. Staff members were still requested to wear masks in the lobby at elevators, at the building’s request.)
Emerging from the public health emergency, which began March 13, 2020, the Executive Director will continue to make informed determinations as to when and how staff will continue to return to the office. These policies may be adjusted from time to time until NASPAA fully reopens. Any updates to this policy will be considered to be a temporary superseding of the Employee Handbook on this matter until NASPAA is full re-opened.
NASPAA staff and volunteer travel: NASPAA staff travel outside the DMV is no longer suspended, and if staff observe local, state, and national guidelines, they may travel wherever they are permitted, given their vaccination status, Covid test result status (where needed), travel circumstances, and local conditions.
Working remotely and transportation policies
- For days when NASPAA staff are working remotely, they will be keeping the same core working hours as before (10 am- 4pm eastern time), with individual flexibility for additional hours to comprise 8 hours per day. Members are still requested to contact staff via email, rather than by phone, unless necessary. There may be delays in returning phone messages, because they are sometimes being accessed remotely.
- Members and contractors should submit checks and other official documents by mail—staff are checking mail regularly at the NASPAA offices.
- NASPAA is now approving work-related travel outside the Washington DC area, but is confirming the earlier decision that the 2021 NASPAA conference will be mainly virtual, with some opportunities for local convenings.
- Work days in the office are now considered expected and routine, and NASPAA will not be reimbursing commuting travel to or from the office, including Uber/Lyft, taxi, or reimbursing for car mileage. NASPAA does not provide parking or parking benefits for any employees commuting from home into the office or commuting to a remote NASPAA working location. Commutation expenses by metrorail, bus, Uber/Lyft, or private car are the responsibility of the employee. Similarly, NASPAA will not be reimbursing any staff or volunteers for carry-out or delivered meals or other services to the NASPAA offices, unless by prior agreement with the Executive Director.
- NASPAA staff, volunteers, or other individuals working in the NASPAA office must take personal responsibility to observe safety precautions according to NASPAA policies, signs, and instructions, and CDC and DC guidelines. All employees and volunteers visiting should remain vigilant to maintain safe working practices. They are requested to do a temperature check before leaving their home, and not to go into the office if feeling ill, and to be aware they must follow ALL 1029 Vermont building rules, including elevator protocol, and mask wearing upon entry to the building. Once in NASPAA’s 11th floor offices, vaccinated employees and visitors may, June 15, 2021 and thereafter, work without masks, and use common areas including coffee and tea supplies. If the CDC and DC guidelines change regarding mask wearing and other preventive measures, or if one or more staff members is exposed or positive, NASPAA will review and adapt policies accordingly. Please note that both the building management and NASPAA are, and will do, everything we can to minimize the health risks to all staff, but we cannot completely eliminate it, and that some risk will accompany any level of re-opening, and NASPAA is not liable for that. If you become aware of any potentially harmful or damaging practices by either the management of 1029 Vermont, or within NASPAA on the 11th floor, please notify Monchaya and Laurel immediately, and they will attempt to have it corrected.
- During the reopening period, the Executive Director will continue to make a determination as to when and how staff, interns, and volunteers will return to the office. These policies may be adjusted from time to time until NASPAA determines that the pandemic policy period is at an end, and the Employee Handbook will address personnel policies on a regular basis.
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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Update date: October 2021
COPRA determined that Spring 2022 site visits-- for the 2021-2022 cohort--will take place in-person
To help with deliberations, COPRA used responses from programs in the review cohort on their instiution's travel and safety guidelines, as well as responses from volunteer site visitors on their availability and willingness to participate in in-person visits. The Commission also analyzed the results from evaluations of the 2020-2021 site visits (which took place fully online) provided by both programs and volunteers, and cross-cohort accreditation outcomes, among other tools.
COPRA understands the fast evolving nature of university responses to the pandemic and is committed to working with programs to ensure the safety of all stakeholders involved in the accreditation process. The full policy, including a mechanism for requesting an exception, can be found here.