On August 19, 2021, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 13D requiring covered workers in a public or non-public pre-K to grade 12 school to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or, if not vaccinated, to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.  On September 10, 2021, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 13G, which repealed Executive Order 13D and made various clarifications and changes to the previous order.  On September 17, 2021, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) issued Implementation Guidance for Executive Order 13G (“DPH Guidance”), adding many new details to the requirements of Executive Order 13G.

In summary, Executive Order 13G mandates that school boards and independent schools require covered workers to:

  • be fully vaccinated against COVID-19;
  • have received a single-dose vaccination, or have completed or at least started a two-dose regimen, with an appointment for the second dose;
  • have a medical exemption; or
  • have a religious exemption.

As an alternative to vaccination, any covered worker hired before September 27, 2021 also has the option of submitting to weekly testing and any other safety precautions imposed by the school.  In contrast, covered workers hired on and after September 27 will not be permitted to decline vaccination unless they have a documented and approved medical or religious exemption.

Executive Order 13G further requires that school boards (1) authenticate the vaccination status of covered workers, (2) maintain documentation of vaccination or exemption of such individuals, and (3) require unvaccinated covered workers to submit to COVID-19 testing not less than once per week until fully vaccinated and provide adequate proof of the results of the testing “in a form and manner directed by the Department of Public Health.”

The DPH Guidance provides many new details regarding the implementation of Executive Order 13G.  Those new details can be summarized as follows:

Proof of Vaccination Status

  • Employees providing proof of vaccination status must submit a signed declaration of authenticity.

Exemption Requests

  • Medical exemption requests must contain specific and detailed information, as set forth in sample forms provided by DPH. Schools and school districts may use DPH’s sample form, or they may use their own form, provided it collects the same information designated in DPH’s form.
  • Religious and spiritual belief exemption requests may be submitted on a sample form provided by DPH, or on a form provided by the school or school district. Schools and school districts “should determine, in discussion with their Human Resources management and legal counsel, what process and information is appropriate and necessary for review in determining whether a request for religious or spiritual exemption from COVID-19 vaccination submitted by a covered worker should be accepted or rejected.”

COVID-19 Weekly Testing

  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated must submit to weekly COVID-19 testing effective September 27, 2021. Such testing must be (1) either PCR or antigen SARS-CoV-2 tests, (2) administered and reported by a state licensed clinical laboratory, pharmacy-based testing provider, or other healthcare provider facility with a current Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments waiver, and (3) submitted to the school board within 72 hours of the test administration date.
  • Covered workers who are not fully vaccinated may receive a temporary waiver from the testing requirement if they can provide documented proof that they have tested positive for, or been diagnosed with, COVID-19 infection in the prior 90 days. Any covered worker granted a temporary waiver must return to regular weekly testing after the expiration date indicated on the waiver form if not fully vaccinated by that date.

Contractors

  • School boards are responsible to secure reports from contractors regarding their contract workers’ compliance with Executive Order 13G.
  • At a minimum, contractors must provide periodic reporting of contract workers who are vaccinated, have been granted an exemption, and are subject to weekly testing at a frequency that the school board determines sufficient to assure compliance.

Compliance Deadline

  • Submission of the appropriate vaccination documentation, requests for exemptions, and/or test results must take place by September 27, 2021.
  • If a covered worker falls out of compliance at any time with the requirements of Executive Order 13G, school boards must restrict such worker’s access to their facilities and premises.

As outlined above, Executive Order 13G and the DPH Guidance contain significant new requirements for schools in Connecticut.  A full discussion of vaccination, exemption, and testing-related requirements is beyond the scope of this alert.  All public school districts and non-public schools are advised to carefully review Executive Order 13G and the DPH Guidance and contact legal counsel with any questions or concerns.

If you have specific questions regarding this guidance, please contact Jessica Richman Smith at jsmith@goodwin.com; Julie Fay at jfay@goodwin.com; Dori Pagé Antonetti at dantonetti@goodwin.com; or Tyler Bischoff at tbischoff@goodwin.com.

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Photo of Jessica Richman Smith Jessica Richman Smith

Jessica represents schools in a variety of education, labor relations and employment law matters.  She negotiates certified and non-certified collective bargaining agreements on behalf of numerous public boards of education.  Jessica also represents school districts in labor and employment disputes, freedom of information…

Jessica represents schools in a variety of education, labor relations and employment law matters.  She negotiates certified and non-certified collective bargaining agreements on behalf of numerous public boards of education.  Jessica also represents school districts in labor and employment disputes, freedom of information hearings, teacher tenure proceedings, student disciplinary matters, election law matters, and other legal proceedings arising in the education context.  In addition, Jessica advises schools on education policies and practices, compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, and other legal matters arising in the education context.

Photo of Julie C. Fay Julie C. Fay

Julie represents public and independent schools in a variety of special education and general education law matters, with a particular focus on issues relating to students with disabilities, student discipline, confidentiality, school governance and policy. Julie frequently represents schools in administrative hearings, including…

Julie represents public and independent schools in a variety of special education and general education law matters, with a particular focus on issues relating to students with disabilities, student discipline, confidentiality, school governance and policy. Julie frequently represents schools in administrative hearings, including expulsion hearings, special education due process hearings and related proceedings, and is often called upon to guide districts in drafting policies and administrative procedures in all education law areas. As part of her practice, Julie has conducted numerous professional development workshops for clients and other school organizations.

Photo of Dori Pagé Antonetti Dori Pagé Antonetti

Dori Antonetti is an associate in the School Law Practice Group. She advises public school districts on a variety of general education, special education, and labor and employment issues.

Prior to joining Shipman & Goodwin, Dori worked as a Hearing Review Officer for…

Dori Antonetti is an associate in the School Law Practice Group. She advises public school districts on a variety of general education, special education, and labor and employment issues.

Prior to joining Shipman & Goodwin, Dori worked as a Hearing Review Officer for the New York City Office of Labor Relations. Dori also clerked for Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Before law school, Dori joined Teach for America and worked as a bilingual kindergarten teacher in Spanish Harlem.

Dori is proficient in Spanish.

Photo of Tyler Bischoff Tyler Bischoff

Tyler Bischoff is a member of the firm’s School Law Practice Group, where he advises public school districts on a variety of general education, special education and labor and employment issues.

Prior to joining Shipman, Tyler served as a law clerk for the…

Tyler Bischoff is a member of the firm’s School Law Practice Group, where he advises public school districts on a variety of general education, special education and labor and employment issues.

Prior to joining Shipman, Tyler served as a law clerk for the Honorable Christine E. Keller of the Connecticut Appellate Court. Prior to law school, Tyler worked as a college admissions counselor at a private university. While in law school, he served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Bruce M. Selya of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and an intern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island.