Students and teachers in the United States are preparing for the arrival of a new federal government rule that would make it more difficult for students and teachers to enroll online in a wide range of subjects, from health to engineering.
The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation said they would be updating rules to make the process more user-friendly.
They also said they will provide online instruction to students in public high schools and universities, but not in charter schools.
Students in high school can still opt to receive the online course through a federal program that costs $4,000 per year and offers online classes at $250 a pop.
The rules are expected to take effect this fall.
“This rule will help educate our students about how to access, understand and apply research in fields where access to basic information is limited,” said Stephen Wertheimer, the acting administrator for the National Institutes on Aging.
“For instance, we’ve seen how students may be able to take online courses in biology, but that’s not always the case.”
The NIH and the NSF say they have no plans to change the existing regulations governing the online learning of science, technology, engineering and math.
The regulations were put in place to improve access to scientific knowledge, and make it easy for scientists to get access to their work, said Nia-Malika Henderson, director of the NSFs Office of Scientific Research.
“The new rules will make sure that students who are not currently able to access the Internet have access to the content they need,” Henderson said.
Under the new rules, students in grades 9 through 12 will be able enroll in a limited number of online classes through the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a nonprofit funded by the NIH.
The new online requirement will apply to all students who enroll in the NCSE, including those who complete a post-secondary education at an institution other than a public high school.
But the requirements will be tougher for students who do not attend college.
Students who are eligible for federal student loans or who live in areas with limited Internet access will be exempt from the new requirements, according to the National Education Association.