by Lisa Weintraub Schifferle
Attorney, FTC, Division of Consumer & Business Education

“Social distancing,” “shelter-in-place,” “virtual happy hour” – these are some of the new expressions on everyone’s lips the past few weeks. For many kids, parents, and teachers, add “remote learning” or “distance learning” to the list. Because of Coronavirus-related school closures, millions of students are now learning from home. For parents who are concerned about the privacy and security of their children’s personal data while they’re learning online, here are some things to know.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a new streamlined process for providing states funding flexibilities to best meet the needs of students and educators during the COVID-19 national emergency. The new flexibilities, authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allow schools to repurpose existing K-12 education funds for technology infrastructure and teacher training on distance learning, among other flexibilities to move resources to areas of highest need during the national emergency.

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New Online Features Include Aid Summary and Loan Simulator

WASHINGTON — Delivering on U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' promise to modernize and personalize customer experience with federal student aid, the Education Department announced today transformative upgrades to StudentAid.gov. The updated website now features new tools, which provide students with detailed information about the grants and loans they have received and guide them to a personalized recommendation for a loan repayment plan. Federal Student Aid (FSA) also launched a pilot that allows a subset of the office's 42 million borrowers, for the first time ever, to make student loan payments directly on http://StudentAid.gov.

These updates complement the President's fiscal year 2021 budget proposal, which includes calls to simplify student loan types, amounts, and repayment options and provide customers with access to an online portal with personalized information to help them easily understand their options and make informed decisions throughout the financial aid life cycle.

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Spaces are available for this free training in March

PHOENIX – An Arizona Department of Transportation training program that helps members of economically disadvantaged groups launch careers in transportation construction is getting ready to hold its first session just for women.

By focusing the next two-week Construction Academy, to be held March 2-13 in Phoenix, ADOT’s On-The-Job-Training Supportive Services Program is helping address underrepresentation by women in the field. Women comprise about 9 percent of construction workers nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the creation of a new initiative that allows more students to gain on-the-job experience with employers in their field of study as part of their Federal Work-Study (FWS) program. The initiative, known as an experimental site, expands FWS opportunities for students at 190 institutions.

Institutions participating in the experimental site will be granted waivers, which encourage them to expand the use of FWS funds to support more students working in the private sector and, for the first time, allow them to pay low-income students for work experiences required by their academic programs, such as student teaching and clinical rotations.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement on the FUTURE Act after President Trump signed the bill into law. The Act contains several important higher education reforms championed by the Secretary that will benefit students for decades to come:

"This administration continues to put students first, and this historic bill is another example of our commitment to them. The more than 300,000 students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), along with millions more at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), will benefit   more...