The Clearinghouse’s Response to the Coronavirus
The National Student Clearinghouse continues to monitor the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as more cases are confirmed in the United States and other countries.
We continue to use the best advice and guidance available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Our leadership team is meeting regularly to discuss and review the rapidly evolving situation regarding the spread of COVID-19 and how we can continue to support the schools, students, and others who use the Clearinghouse.
We have received several inquiries regarding the potential impact this outbreak may have on our services, and necessary coordination steps. To help provide additional insight, we have put together answers to several key questions. We will continue to provide updates and answers as they become available.
How is Clearinghouse protecting its staff?
The Clearinghouse has developed and distributed a Coronavirus (COVID-19) employee reference guide to all our employees. In this guide we provide our employees with the necessary information on the Coronavirus, including its symptoms, what to do if you suspect you have been exposed to the virus, and how to prevent infection and/or the spreading of the virus. Additionally, we are observing handwashing guidelines and performing routine office cleaning and encouraging our employees to follow CDC guidelines for travelers.
Our employees have been instructed to stay home if ill, have a fever, or need to take care of a sick family member. We are encouraging our employees to observe handwashing guidelines and to use the hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes and tissues that are available throughout our offices.
What steps are in place should the Clearinghouse’s headquarters close?
The Clearinghouse has a business continuity plan in place to ensure critical functions are supported in the event of an emergency, including the ability to push communications to all staff and for employees to work remotely.
What impact will this have on our ability to maintain reporting compliance as well as fulfill transcript and verification requests?
> Enrollment Reporting and Compliance
The Clearinghouse will continue to work closely with you to ensure your enrollment reporting compliance processing meets National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) timelines. We are actively communicating with NSLDS and the Department of Education on this matter to determine how we can best support your institution and will share that information via our Compliance Central blog. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to subscribe to our blog so you can receive updates as soon as they become available.
If possible, we recommend that you continue to process all your enrollment files. Be sure to address any NSLDS errors we route to you in a timely manner. Federal Student Aid (FSA) has published a comprehensive guide for institutions who require guidance for study interruptions related to the Coronavirus. If you have questions not addressed in the guide, you can contact the FSA at COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
If your campus is forced to close, the Clearinghouse will continue to provide 24/7 service to your school and its students through our online transcript and verification services.
> Transcript Services
The Clearinghouse has posted messages to let transcript requestors (including via Student Self-Service) know there may be delays or disruptions in processing transcript requests by institutions that have had to close. Requestors have been directed to check the institution’s website for closure information. You can add a custom message on your Welcome Page via the Transcript Services tab on our school secure site. If you need assistance or would like us to post a transcript message for you, our Customer Service teams are available to handle online support requests M–F from 9am–6pm, ET. We appreciate your patience as we work to provide the best possible service during this public health crisis.
> If your institution participates in SecurePrint
Our SecurePrint vendor has a business continuity plan in place. Our vendor has many strategic partnerships and relationships with third-party vendors for whom it is critical to ensure that the failure of a single vendor does not cause a loss of business continuity. As a result, our SecurePrint vendor is able to easily shift the business to another vetted and secure print facility so there will be no delays printing and mailing transcripts.
> Verification Services
The Clearinghouse has posted messages to let requestors know that they may experience delays in turnaround time whenever a DegreeVerify request requires research from institutions impacted. If you would like to let requestors know when to expect a response to research requests from your institution, you can create a pending message alert via the Verifications Services tab on our school secure site. If you need assistance or would like us to post a DegreeVerify pending alert for you, our Customer Service teams are available to handle online support requests M–F from 9am–6pm, ET. We appreciate your patience as we work to provide the best possible service during this public health crisis.
If your institution participates in Student Self-Service, your students will continue to have 24/7 access to it.
What impact will this have on submitting StudentTracker files and processing reports?
StudentTracker file submissions and report processing will not be interrupted but may be delayed during a possible office closure.
Is the Clearinghouse cancelling any upcoming conferences and/or Clearinghouse Academy events?
Clearinghouse staff regularly travel around the country for campus visits, Clearinghouse Academy meetings, as well as conferences. At this time the only changes we have made are postponing our March and April Clearinghouse Academy: Live in Your Neighborhood events. We are sending cancelation notices to all registrants who have RSVP’d for these events.
Additional Public Health Information Links on COVID-19
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Situation Summary
- WHO: Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
- US Department of Education Coronavirus Page
- The CDC’s Coronavirus Updates
- CDC’s Tips on How to Not to Spread the COVID-19
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration
If you or your school have additional questions/concerns or need our assistance, our Customer Service teams are available to handle online support requests M–F from 9am–6pm, ET. We appreciate your patience as we work to provide the best possible service during this public health crisis.