Frequently Asked Questions - Colleges

Frequently Asked Questions - Colleges

Will any courses continue in-person during this time?

For the safety of students, faculty, and staff, the vast majority of classes will continue online if possible, or be paused if not. However, since the NC Community College System is the main source of education for much of North Carolina's workforce that will respond to this pandemic, in-person courses will continue with strict safety measures for first responders and nursing students. Please see Numbered Memo CC20-021 for more specific guidance.

(Last updated 3/19/2020)


What should students without internet access at home do if their in-person class is shifted online?

There are a number of options available for students, and they should get in touch with their college's student services office for help with their specific situation. The Federal Communications Commission has announced the Keep Americans Connected Initiative which can make internet access more affordable for students. More information is availble at the link provided.

(Last updated 3/19/2020)


What should high school students in Career and College Promise dual enrollment courses do while K-12 schools are closed?

The leaders of each of the education sectors in the state have committed to working jointly to resolve issues encountered by our dually enrolled students. Leaders issued a joint statement. Students with specific questions should call their college or university directly.

(Last updated 3/20/2020)


How will the state's licensing boards and accrediting bodies respond to COVID-19?

The System Office is in contact with each of the entities that licenses or accredits our programs, and is discussing with them flexibility our colleges need to ensure our students experience the smallest disruption to their education possible. As decisions are reached, they will be posted to this website.

(Last updated 3/19/2020)


If a student is unable to continue their instruction as a result of COVID-19 through no fault of their own, will they be required to pay back financial aid they have received?

The System Office is seeking guidance from the US Department of Education on this question, and will update this response as soon as we receive clarification.

(Last updated 3/19/2020)


How will colleges' enrollment be counted for funding purposes if we have a major disruption to Spring Semester?

The System Office is reviewing various options to recommend to the NC General Assembly, and the final response will depend largely on how long educational disruptions continue. This response will be updated as we learn more.

(Last updated 3/19/2020)


Do colleges have flexibility in spending during this time?

On March 19, the State Board of Community colleges voted to grant colleges flexibility in how they spend bookstore receipts, student activity fees, and technology fees. You can learn about the temporary measures here.

Additionally, per 01 NCAC 05B .1602 and 09 NCAC 06B .1302, colleges have authority to make purchases for emergency needs.

(Last updated 3/19/2020)


What should colleges do about additional expenses they incur in their response to COVID-19?

Colleges should keep track of all additional expenses and/or revenue lost as a result of COVID-19. The State Office of Budget and Mangement has requested that agencies share this information as it is available. The State Board of Community Colleges has provided temporary relief to colleges via temporary rules permitting colleges flexibility in expenditure of recieipts from bookstores, student activity fees, and technology fees.

(Last updated 3/19/2020)


Can colleges donate or sell state-purchased Personal Protective Equipment to local hospitals?

Yes. State Board approval is not required. According to statute, prior notice and Board of Trustees approval are required. Given the emergency situation, colleges are urged to act in the best interest of their communities, regardless of notice and approval provisions. Notification of the college's Board of Trustees is sufficient, and individual presidents can decide how best to involve the local board. College staff should record the sale or donation, and should ensure that the equipment meets medical-grade standards.

(Last updated 3/23/2020)


Will colleges receive direction about what to do with the courses we are converting to online? Do the classes need to be recoded on the schedule?  What will we need to be concerned with                from an attendance/compliance perspective?

There is no need to recode courses. Document your changes and maintain documentation for compliance services.

(Last updated 3/26/2020)


Should colleges consider Pass/Fail grades?

Grading is a local decision, but we strongly encourage colleges to grade out the class using their normal grading systems. We are concerned that issuing pass/fail grades may impact the transferability of credits to senior institutions.

(Last updated 3/26/2020)


Can we deliver face-to-face instruction for programs not specifically mentioned on the exception list in Numbered Memo CC20-21?

Only for training needed for the state’s emergency response, as requested by state or federal authorities. Examples of face-to-face delivery not allowed include: WBL, other Health Programs and Customized Training.

(Last updated 3/26/2020)


Are colleges required to continue face-to-face delivery for the programs where an exception was provided?

No. Colleges are not required to continue face-to-face delivery. This exception allows colleges to make a local decision based on the needs of the community and the need for a response to the COVID-19 crisis. The following conditions should be met in instances where face-to-face instruction is continued:

  • students and faculty follow appropriate social distancing and safety measures
  • students are willing to participate and not penalized if they opt to delay instruction
  • students are provided appropriate personal protective equipment, if applicable

(Last updated 3/26/2020)


Can we continue to allow students to engage in WBL if that learning is in a workplace not on the college campus?

Only for training needed for the state’s emergency response, as requested by state or federal authorities. The college has some flexibility in determining how best to satisfy the course                options/requirements. One solution some colleges are using is if a student was in a 3 SHC WBL course, but not able to complete all the hours, move them to a lower contact WBL course and give them credit for that course as a substitute.

(Last updated 3/26/2020)


Will veterans be permitted to participate in classes that are online, specifically those numbered less than 100? 

Per verbal approval from the VA, veteran students will be paid if they take 100% of their Dev. Ed. courses online up until December 21, 2020.

(Last updated 3/26/2020)


As the transition classes move to online is proctoring of Tier tests necessary?

This is a college decision, However, RISE will no longer require Tier tests to be proctored.

(Last updated 3/26/2020)


Can a college use a high school GPA that is more than ten years old for placement into gateway courses?

Yes, there will be no expiration on high school GPA for the purposes of placement into gateway math and English courses for the summer or fall 2020 semester.

(Last updated 3/26/2020)


What methods are available to alter course section dates to accommodate extended time needed for the completion of face-to-face or online courses?

The document titled Adjust Curriculum (CU) Section Meeting Dates Due to an Unplanned Event has been published to the NCCCS Service Portal at This document is available to assist colleges that may have a need to adjust Curriculum section meeting dates.

Colleges may use their current Emergency/Inclement Weather Make Up Plans to mitigate the impact of covid-19; the make up plans may adjust delivery methods, start dates, meeting dates, end dates, etc., just as they currently do to remedy inclement weather situations. Note: course-section end-dates may be extended past the semester end date. Colleges use this method as a paper process. Compliance can be demonstrated by documenting changes for audit purposes.

Colleges may want to consider giving a special Incomplete for courses that were not able to complete in the spring term. A separate section can be created in the summer term to create structure for students to complete the course. This may be useful for classes that require hands on training. The separate section should not have a charge or contact hours attached since the student is currently enrolled in the course and has paid tuition.

(Last updated 3/26/2020)


What should colleges do about students in Career and College Promise?

The NC Community College System seeks to ensure high school students participating in the Career and College Promise program are not negatively impacted by the disruption of learning caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

The following guidance to colleges is provided to ensure the academic integrity of learning while also mitigating the long-term impact for dually enrolled students. If possible, enabling students to complete courses within the current term should be attempted. Attention to the documentation of course learning outcomes should be emphasized.

If dually enrolled students are unable to complete a currently enrolled course, the following guidance is provided:

If a high school SENIOR is unable to complete a college course, NCCCS recommends withdrawing the student from the college course.

If a high school student is a FRESHMAN, SOPHOMORE, or JUNIOR and is unable to complete a college course, NCCCS recommends:

  • Withdrawing the student from the course; or
  • Assigning an Incomplete grade for the college course with the understanding that the student may be able to complete the course during the summer term or during the next academic year at no additional cost. 

Colleges are encouraged to work collaboratively with their local LEA or Charter School as they consider methods for supporting student success.

(Last updated 3/26/2020)