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COVID-19 Guidance for Orthotic, Prosthetic, and Pedorthic Students and Educators

Purpose of This Document: The following information is designed to provide guidance and resources for all CAAHEP and NCOPE accredited O&P academic programs including future and current students, faculty, and academic institution administrators during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Although it is impossible to account for the unique circumstances each academic institution and residency site will face in the unforeseeable future, NCOPE would like to provide clear information in order to layout guidance for the ongoing training of future O&P technicians, O&P assistants, Pedorthists, and Orthotists/Prosthetists. NCOPE will continue to monitor the guidance provided by the Department of Education (DOE), Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) as it relates to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. NCOPE will also provide periodic updates, as deemed necessary, in an effort to keep stakeholders informed during these uncertain times.

Be Prepared

Remain aware of the local COVID-19 environment. Seek input from local, state, and federal authorities to ensure your institution and its affiliates are operating legally and in a manner that protects the best interest of students, staff, faculty, and the public.

Review and refine infectious disease control and safety plans at the institution and clinical/technical placement sites. Take steps to ensure that the infectious disease control and safety plan not only accounts for the normal infectious disease and safety protocols, and but that they also account for unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak pandemic.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations

Educational accrediting bodies and professional credentialing agencies hold a primary responsibility to protect the public and the patients that students and graduates provide care to. NCOPE recognizes that there are considerable challenges tied to entailed in the delivery of education when restrictions are placed on physical personal contact and the number of persons who may be present at a given time social distancing. NCOPE/CAAHEP believes understands that program faculty are in the best positioned to make informed decisions about related to student competence, including psychomotor skill demonstration, and we trust believe that the assessments that are used by individual programs will be effectively in assessing student readiness to safely transition into their clinical and technical post graduate settings.

The US Department of Education (DOE) and Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) have issued guidance for meeting accreditation standards with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to educational accreditors and academic institutions.  This guidance recognizes that accrediting organizations are allowed to augment their policies and processes on a temporary basis.  Please continue to reference DOE/CHEA resources for the current guidance being given to academic institutions.

DOE Guidance on COVID-19 and FAQ:

CHEA Guidance on COVID-19:

  • NCOPE has postponed all site visits until June 15, 2020 at the earliest and all programs scheduled to undergo accreditation during the 2nd quarter have been notified.  We are actively evaluating the potential to leverage virtual site visits for programs undergoing continuing accreditation and face-to-face site visits for programs undergoing the process of candidacy and initial accredtiation.
  • NCOPE and CAAHEP have been granted the discretion to extend accreditation terms for a reasonable period of time for circumstances related to disruptions cause by the COVID-19 pandemic. Probationary status and/or unfavorable accreditation determinations will not be incurred if a site visit and review does not occur prior to the accreditation expiration dates listed on the CAAHEP Website.

CAAHEP is the accrediting body charged to the DOE and CHEA with maintaining minimum standards.  These stabdards provide assurance to the public that graduates of accredited programs meet the requirements as defined in the educational standards.

NCOPE/CAAHEP Education Standards, Policies, and Procedures

At this time, NCOPE and CAAHEP have not made changes to the accreditation standards.  It is the responsibility of each program to ensure that all requirements within the core curriculum guide (Appendix B) continue to be met even if the program delivery method and resources have changed.

A substantive changein the method of delivery does not need to be reported to NCOPE.  The DOE has granted broad approval to educational institutions to use online technologies on a temporary basis.  Programs must still report substantive changes that relate to:

1) Change/addition/deletion of courses that represent a signification departure in curriculum content.

2) A change in the degree awarded.

3) Substantial increase/decrease in clock or credit hours for successful completion of the program.

Resources for Students, Educators, and Academic Administrators





Revision Notes

4/2/2020 – Additional resources were amended

5/21/2020 – Additional resources were amended