CoAES Updates on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and FAQs for Accredited Programs (Personal Fitness Trainer, Exercise Science, and Exercise Physiology)

The CoAES recognizes that all accredited programs rely heavily on practical, in-person experiences and the current health crisis significantly impacts all programs. The CoAES holds the safety of faculty and students of the utmost importance and we will help to navigate issues that impact all programs and their students.

As academic institutions finalize their initial response, we encourage you to visit these helpful resources for the latest information on COVID-19:

Student learning: Should programs be required by their institutions/organizations to make changes that may negatively impact student learning in the short term, they should seek to implement supplemental learning opportunities. These supplemental opportunities should be implemented prior to students completing their program to ensure they are able to meet all program outcomes. Some institutions may have had to make decisions that will lead to delayed completion of program requirements for their learners and may consequently need to develop contingency plans. Each program is responsible to ensure that all required content is continues to be taught and learned in a manner that helps students achieve the required program outcomes.

If graduation dates are delayed, document which sites and students were directly impacted by the delays and note the length of the possible disruption.

For students that are currently in their culminating experience, decisions made may impact the students’ graduation/completion date. Factors to consider include but are not limited to:

  • having a dialogue with agency supervisors to discuss options for continued learning
  • extending the students’ learning through faculty supervision
  • following the program’s and institution’s protocols
  • utilizing other clinical or capstone field internship affiliations that are accepting students
  • meeting the institutional requirements for potentially extended graduation for all students

If a student is suspended from attending their culminating experience, follow (or create) an action plan for students who do not meet the program’s established minimums for experience hours.

Programs are encouraged to move forward using temporary, common sense approaches without CoAES guidance or approval unless it impacts student learning outcomes.

The CoAES is dedicated to supporting all accredited programs, their faculty and students during this coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.  Please contact William Coale, Director CoAES ( or Ben Thompson, Chair CoAES ( if you have any questions regarding the CoAES accreditation responses to the pandemic. 


My program is scheduled for a site visit, can we still hold it?

  • Yes, you will still have your site visit.  However, until further notice, all site visits will occur electronically.  Please work closely with the site visitor team lead to ensure all material is available for review.

My annual report is due on July 1st. Is that still the due date?

  • Yes. Complete the annual report based on the data you have and add any necessary rationale to the number you are reporting on by commenting below. Please send Annual Reports to .

The current annual fees for the CoAES and CAAHEP are $500 and $600.  Will this stay the same?

  • Yes. Invoices will be sent out May 15th, 2020 with a due date of July 1st. Please note that the due date is subject to change due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation and a programs ability to process the invoice with the appropriate parties at their institution.

My institution has officially required all in-person courses to be delivered in an online format for a defined or indeterminate period of time. Can we move all in-person courses to online learning?

  • Yes, as long as the delivery of the courses is consistent with the official institutional response to the Coronavirus. The CoAES will sanction these temporary actions without any requirements for approval or notification at this time.

My students are not able to take any certification exams because the testing centers are suspending test delivery until April 16th. Will this impact my accreditation.

  • No.  In your annual report, please make note of why the program did not meet the established benchmark for the year, and how the program plans on addressing the issue for the next annual report.

My institution is giving students the option to choose Pass/Fail for their classes.  Will this impact my programs accreditation? 

  • No.  The CoAES is an outcome-based accreditation.  Grades earned by students should not impact any of the outcomes that programs are required to report on.  For all program levels (Personal Fitness Trainer, Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology) Please look at Standards and Guidelines III.C. Curriculum and IV.A Student Evaluation and IV.B. Outcomes Assessment for detailed information regarding what the CoA requires programs to report.

Our University is moving all classes online. Where can I find some educational resources regarding distance learning?

Do I need to remain compliant with all Standards during this temporary situation?

  • Yes. The CoAES and CAAHEP are committed to promoting flexibility in response to this situation and remain committed to assuring compliance with our accreditation standards.

Do I need to get approval from the CoAES if I make temporary programmatic changes?

  • No, the CoAES will not require programs to get prior approval or notify the CoAES regarding temporary changes made to the program that are consistent with the institution’s guidelines/response plan unless is impacts proposed student outcomes.  Questions should be directed to the CoAES if outcomes will be affected.

Do I need to contact the CoAES if I make a change to the curriculum that may result in non-compliance?

  • Yes. If a change creates a potential non-compliance with the Standards you should notify the CoAES (William Coale, Director CoAES or Ben Thompson, Chair CoAES, which will provide you with further guidance.

Some internship sites are no longer accepting students from our program. What should we do?

  • Programs are responsible to ensure that students’ experiences follow the current published Standards for your program. Students may be re-assigned to different clinical rotations or appropriate simulations.

Our program is thinking of using simulations to fulfill student practical experiences, is this okay?  

  • Programs have the flexibility to use whatever methods they deem appropriate as long as all program competencies and Standards are met.