This notification serves to update the statement issued by the ARC/STSA on March 9, 2020, to support our programs as educators are challenged with instituting proactive measures to address the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

As institutions make decisions to alter the delivery of surgical technology and surgical assisting curriculum, whether this includes a temporary closure of an institution or a move to alternative delivery of didactic coursework, the ARC/STSA requests that a notification be sent to info@arcstsa.org.  The notification should include the change that the institution has decided to make with the anticipated timetable (realizing that this situation is fluid), and should copy administration (dean and/or president) on the correspondence.

As noted in the March 9, 2020, statement, such decisions should be made with guidance from school administration and institutional accreditors, and with regard to student enrollment policies and local and state public health agencies’ directives.

We have put forth several suggested resources (below) to consult when making these decisions.  Specifically, in regard to temporary closures or moving courses to a distance education delivery, the ARC/STSA has found the U.S. Department of Education’s Guidance for interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) to offer possible solutions. The ARC/STSA will follow the Department’s guidance and allow programs to offer didactic coursework via distance education modalities without completing an application during this unusual public health circumstance.  Please note that if a program wishes to continue distance education delivery after the COVID-19 crisis, it will need to follow the ARC/STSA’s stated application procedures.

It is important to note that simulation cannot be substituted for scheduled hands-on laboratory or clinical hours/cases.

Placing the health and safety of our volunteers, educators and students as our top priority, the ARC/STSA has postponed on-site evaluations scheduled to occur between March 15 – April 15, 2020, and has suspended the coordination of future site visits until further notice.  This was not an easy decision.  The situation is unpredictable, but the constant is that we want to do the right thing by our volunteers, our programs and our students.

Among our concerns in postponing initial site visits was the impact that it could have on graduates’ testing eligibility. We have been actively communicating with our partner organizations, the AST and NBSTSA, as we all work to ensure that our programs are well supported. We have worked with the NBSTSA to request that if currently enrolled students (students enrolled at the time that the site visit was originally scheduled) graduate prior to the rescheduled site visit, that they will be permitted to sit for their certification examinations, upon the award of accreditation.  The NBSTSA has approved this request as a temporary provision during the COVID public health crisis. Further, the NBSTSA will work with each individual sponsoring institution to facilitate the 60-day WBT testing window as needed.

We are all in this together and will work with each of our programs to ensure that students receive the required education per the surgical technology and surgical assisting core curricula and CAAHEP Standards.

Suggested resources for the latest information on coronavirus: