Guidance to stations: School closures due to COVID-19

Due to concerns over COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Harvard University and the entire University of Maryland system have announced that live classes will not resume after spring break.  In addition, some school districts, smaller colleges and priviate educational institutions have announced closures of campuses.

Please note that the following guidance applies only to full-power noncommercial educational and low power FM (LPFM) stations that are actually licensed to the educational institution (i.e. the school, school district, college or university system).  This advice does not apply to stations licensed to other organizations. 

§73.561(a) [for NCE] and §73.850(b) [for LPFM] of the FCC Rules state that stations licensed to educational institutions do not need to observe minimum operating requirements on days "designated on the official school calendar as vacation or recess periods."

While many stations may choose to operate through automation, it is REC's interpretation of these rules that stations that are licensed to educational institutions that were forced to close as a result of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) concerns and therefore not providing student access to the campus, that those days are considered a "recess period" and therefore would not be subject to minimum operating requirements on those designated closed days thus meaning that NCE stations would not be required to file for silent STAs or that those days would need to be disclosed on a renewal application in the event the closure lasts more than 30 days. 

Stations that are not operating during these emergency closures should still note in their station log when the station ceased operating and when they resume broadcasting.   

The Commission has not, nor is expected to make any official announcement on this specific issue, but they do intend to take into account any special circumstances that may arise due to Coronavirus disruptions. 

Any NCE full-service or LPFM station experiencing difficulties related to Coronavirus disruptions can contact REC for assistance.

March 10, 2020 (original announcement)