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December 01, 2020

Accrediting body working on emergency conditions policy

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The AVMA Council on Education is looking to create a standing emergency conditions policy in light of the pandemic and the potential for similarly disruptive events.

The council already updated its COVID-19 policy during its virtual fall meeting, Aug. 30-Sept. 1.

According to information released by the COE: “The occasion of COVID-19 in 2020 has given the AVMA Council on Education (AVMA-COE, the Council) the opportunity to consider how the Council can best continue its mission in the context of large-scale disruption. ... The Emergency Conditions Policy has been drafted with the COVID-19 Policy as a basis for a policy the Council may enact, under specific ‘Emergency Conditions,’ as designated by the Council.”

The council sought feedback this fall on the policy’s usefulness to stakeholders and on specific inclusions in the policy. These include the authorization of site visits to occur through audio or video and a temporary extension of the accreditation interval for up to 18 months for programs in certain risk categories.

Dr. Kevin Donnelly, chair of the COE, said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the operations of veterinary colleges. The COE recognized the operational duress and, as a result, issued its COVID-19 policy earlier this year. Recent updates to the policy involved an appendix to the council’s policy for verification site visits, following virtual site visits, as well as providing the option for the COE to conduct a virtual site visit for veterinary colleges with an accreditation status of accredited.

“The provisions in the policy are for the sole purpose of management of the COVID-19 situation and are temporary but are in effect until—in the view of the COE—the COVID-19 situation is sufficiently resolved,” he said.

The policy was written consistent with the U.S. Department of Education guidance, which expires as of Dec. 31. Without further information or an extension from the USDE, the COE expects to return to normal policies and practices in 2021, Dr. Donnelly said.

“However, as a contingency, the COE has drafted a separate Emergency Conditions Policy, that is informed by the experience of COVID-19 and with stakeholder review and input, that could be deployed in continuance of the needs of (veterinary colleges) due to COVID-19 or in some future similar event. Overall, the COE is reevaluating the COVID-19 situation regularly as we head into the close of 2020,” he said.

The Accreditation Policies and Procedures Manual of the AVMA COE remains the primary source for policies and procedures related to the COE. However, the full and updated version of the COVID-19 Policy can be found at jav.ma/coecovid (PDF).