As school districts well know, and as explained in our prior post, Executive Order 13G and Implementation Guidance for Executive Order 13G issued by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (“DPH Guidance”) contain numerous requirements regarding COVID-19 vaccination, exemption, and testing for covered workers. In the weeks leading up to, and during, the winter break, there have been a number of important updates to the DPH Guidance stemming from the prevalence of the Omicron variant, the high demand for COVID-19 testing, and a focus on prioritizing testing for symptomatic individuals. Specifically:
- On December 20, 2021, Governor Lamont and DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani announced a two-week pause in the enforcement of Executive Order 13G’s testing requirements for unvaccinated state employees.
- On December 22, 2021, the Connecticut State Department of Education (“CSDE”) announced that covered workers who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to work after the winter break.
- On December 31, 2021, the CSDE updated its December 22 guidance to permit unvaccinated covered workers, in the limited situation of submitting a test result upon return to work after the winter break, to submit results from “home or self-testing with an FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 test kit as an acceptable testing method.” Covered workers still must provide documentation of negative test results, and school districts must collect or maintain such documentation, before covered workers are allowed to return to work post-break.
The updates described above modify the DPH Guidance which, among other requirements, requires covered workers who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to submit adequate proof of negative COVID-19 test results on a weekly basis. Except in the limited circumstance of providing a negative test result when returning to work after the winter break as described above, 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 (CLIA) waiver, and (3) submitted to the school board within 72 hours of the test administration date.
In communicating with covered workers about the recent testing-related updates, school districts may wish to clarify that the at-home testing option is available only upon a covered worker’s initial return to work after the winter break, and will not meet the requirements for weekly testing going forward.