The Federal Coronavirus Relief Bill, known as the CARES Act, allocated funds to help institutions of higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic, but has drawn questions about how those funds are properly administered.
Brigham Young University is entitled to some of those funds, but announced Tuesday on the university’s website that it would instead roll out its own student assistance program for “students enrolled during winter semester 2020 who have struggled to meet their basic needs due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.”
According to the announcement, the university appreciates the efforts made on a national level, but elected to take its own approach.
“BYU appreciates the support Congress has shown to institutions of higher education through the CARES Act,” the announcement said. “We are grateful for the concern that the Department of Education has for students and institutions who have been impacted by COVID-19. While funds were earmarked for BYU under the CARES Act, the university did not apply for this support, nor has it requested or received any of these funds.”
The private funds are being made available by the university, the announcement said.
“BYU, like every private and public institution of higher education, has experienced and will continue to experience significant financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the announcement said. “Our students have also been affected. However, we believe we can assist our students without the CARES Act funds.”
The school said it wants to leave the funds available for other institutions that are harder hit and have more immediate needs.
“We also are seeing the financial strain this pandemic has put on other institutions, some of which may not be able to open their doors to students again without government relief,” the announcement said. “For this reason, BYU has decided not to accept any part of the funds allocated to our university. We have notified the Department of Education of our decision so that it might reallocate resources to others.”
Not only will funds be available, but BYU also emphasized that it plans to use other methods to help students get through the financial challenges they are facing at this time.
“In addition to providing support through financial aid, BYU provides more than 13,000 student jobs on campus,” the announcement said. “We will continue to look for opportunities throughout this pandemic to assist our students, who remain our first priority.”
According to the announcement, specific instructions about how to apply for these funds have been sent to eligible students via BYU’s internal messaging service (YMessage).
Provo senior Aubrey Dupree has been working toward graduation for years — but she never dreamed she would roll up to get her diploma on a boat.
“I’m glad everything happened how it did,” Dupree said with a grin. “This is way cooler than how I thought graduation would be.”
Dupree was one of hundreds of Bulldog seniors who rolled through the parking lot at Provo High Tuesday afternoon to celebrate their graduation.
Eli Brown, the 2019-20 Bulldog student body president, rolled up in the back of a pickup truck. As he looked around the festivities, he grinned and said it was fitting.
“This is definitely different than my brother’s graduation or other friends’ graduations,” Brown said. “I like it. Having it be different like this fits our class because our class is different.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic made standard graduation ceremonies impossible, high schools were forced to think outside the box.
“It’s all about celebrating our seniors,” Provo principal Boyd McAffee said.
Provo invited seniors to come with their families in their vehicles — many of which were decorated with stickers, banners, balloons, photos and decorative graduation hats.
The graduates first drove through the faculty parking lot, where their teachers applauded and cheered for their accomplishments. Many sat in truck beds, flatbed trailers, convertibles, golf carts, open jeeps, sunroofs — and at least one boat.
They were then directed to drive down one of five lanes in the student parking lot to receive their diplomas and graduation packets from administrators (who were wearing Provo masks as well as surgical gloves).
The families then had the chance to pose for photos with their seniors in front of Provo Bulldog banners, which had to be held in place with bags of ice melt due to the breezy conditions.
Unlike normal graduations, the event was punctuated with horns, bells and confetti poppers going off as “Pomp and Circumstance” played on the loudspeakers in the background.
McAffee said it was something completely different than anything he’d participated in before.
“There is really nothing to compare it to,” McAffee said. “I’ve been feeling weighed down that the seniors didn’t get the traditional experience but our senior student officers didn’t want to simulate the traditions. They didn’t want to walk across an empty stage. They wanted it to be different. It’s strange but exciting.”
He lauded the efforts of assistant principal Jenni Thurston and counselor Lissette Blanchard for putting together all of the details to make the drive-through graduation a reality.
Brown said it’s hard to believe that graduation is finally here.
“It’s a little surreal,” he said. “Everything has gone so fast. We had to make the transition to everything going online and not seeing our friends. I just can’t wait until we can get together with our friends again. I think it’s really nice that we get this closure. It’s not what we expected to be having a graduation parade but it is the closure we wanted.”
But he also believes the Class of 2020 has learned some important lessons as they dealt with the end of their high school careers in such unique circumstances.
“We can get through any challenge,” Brown said. “We are strong enough to overcome anything. It’s an opportunity to learn and get better.”
McAffee said he’s been impressed as he’s seen the Bulldog students adapt to all of the changes that have been required.
“It’s been great to see the kids accepting the challenges and taking the opportunity to blossom,” McAffee said.
Orem landlords and owners of rental units have 30 working days to register with the city.
Last December, the Orem City Council voted 7-0 to require landlords to register and to have city utility bills from their rental units placed in their name.
To date, about 1,000 landlords have registered, according to Steven Downs, deputy city manager. There is an estimated 4,000 landlords or owners in the city.
Renters who have typically received a paper billing through the mail will be able to have them sent online. Renters should work with their landlords to make those arrangements.
Beginning July 1, landlords will have to pay a $50 license fee to rent their units. The yearly fee will run in tandem with the city’s fiscal year July 1 to June 30.
Registration began Jan. 1 to give owners and landlords of non-commercial rental properties ample time to register.
Orem is enacting landlord registration because the city turns in about $70,000 in unpaid utilities to collections each year as a result of renters leaving their dwellings without paying their utility bills. The city also hopes the registration will help build a contact list of landlords and give police quicker accessibility if there is an issue on the rental property.
Orem typically sees about $30,000 collected. The city is hoping holding landlords responsible for the outstanding debt will garner most of the remaining $40,000 back to city coffers.
The new database also will address “illegal rentals” by quickly determining if they have a rental license.
Over time, the city also will be able to identify landlords they’ve determined are not attentive to the happenings at their property.
The new licensing program will reduce the amount of work city employees spend performing shut-offs, reading meters, reviewing lease agreements and dealing with various challenges of rental properties, according to Downs.
Landlords who own multiple buildings will not have to pay more than the $50 charge, according to state law.
“You will have to be licensed to be a landlord in the city,” Downs said.
Information about the changes are online at https://orem.org/landlords.
Getting licensed will be as simple as getting the utilities in the names of the owners (adding a property manager, when applicable). Minimal programming will need to be done internally to allow this system to accommodate both the utilities and the rental licensing, Downs said.
If the home has been duplexed to have a separate downstairs apartment with a separate entrance, then the owners would have to register.
Shut-off notices will be sent if a utility bill is three months behind.
For answers to questions concerning the landlord licensing program, visit https://orem.org/help.
On Tuesday, top leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints authorized a two-phase plan to allow members to being meeting for Sunday church services again after COVID-19 precautions canceled all meetings in March.
A letter by the church’s First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles sent Tuesday to general and local leaders around the world said reopening meetings can be done only when local government regulations allow and after the faith’s Area Presidencies provide additional guidance to local church leaders.
“A two-phase approach will be used, always following government regulations to ensure the health and safety of all involved,” the letter said. ”The models ... may be adjusted by Area Presidencies as local conditions require and as approved by their contact in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Presidency of the Seventy.”
Local leaders including stake presidents, counseling with bishops, will determine the specific timing for resumption of meetings and activities. A stake president is the head of several congregations. A bishop is the leader of one congregation.
Phasing will go as follows:
Sabbath Day worship services
Shortened meetings at the meetinghouse with up to 99 individuals will be allowed, following local government regulations.
Other meetings and activities (including weddings and funerals)
Shortened meetings, following local government regulations, may be held remotely using technology.
For members living in Utah and Utah County, Gov. Gary Herbert has placed the state in a yellow or low-risk phase which allows for no more than 50 to gather at one time. Following Herbert’s directions, that would include wearing face masks in public.
Sabbath Day worship services
Meetings at the meetinghouse with 100 or more individuals will be allowed, following local government regulations.
Other meetings and activities
In-person meetings will be allowed at the meetinghouse, following local government regulations.
“We are grateful for the faith of our members as they have worshipped at home and are grateful for the blessings that will come as we gather for worship and activities,” the First Presidency said.
Members of the church have not met in chapels or for meetings since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and some worldwide congregations discontinued meeting even before that.