By Barbie Porter
The Frazee-Vergas School Board learned of policies that may be required for the local school district regarding COVID-19 protocols.
During its regular monthly meeting on Monday, Nov. 8, Superintendent Terry Karger said the district falls into the 100 or more employee businesses that is required to follow federal OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards regarding COVID-19. He said the federal OSHA department created a document to address vaccinations, testing requirements and so forth. He said those documents were sent to the state’s OSHA department for review.
The Minnesota Rural Education Association also reviewed the documents, and provided a condensed glimpse to districts of potential requirements.
The abridged version reviewed by the school board included designating a COVID-19 Coordinator, who would be responsible for implementing, monitoring and updating the plan. The person would be given authority to ensure compliance with all aspects of the plan and would be given full support of the school administration and school board and would be the point of contact between the school and Minnesota Department of Health.
The district would need to provide protocols for visits to the nurses office, as well as additional training on cleaning tactics to reduce potential transmission of illness.
Potential policies for the health office may include mandated patient screening protocols and masking for all who enter the room.
As for the OSHA vaccination and testing sheet the board reviewed, the information outlined included by Dec. 5, employers must:
• Establish a policy on vaccination.
• Determine vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination, maintain records and roster of vaccination status.
• Provide support for employee vaccination.
• Require employees to promptly provide notice of positive COVID-19 test or COVID-19 diagnosis.
• Remove any employee who received a positive COVID-19 test or COVID-19 diagnosis.
• Ensure employees who are not fully vaccinated wear face coverings when indoors, or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes.
• Provide each employee information about the ETS; workplace policies and procedures; vaccination efficacy, safety and benefits; protections against retaliation and discrimination; and laws that provide for criminal penalties for knowingly supplying false documentation.
• Report work-related COVID-19 fatalities to OSHA within eight hours and work-related COVID-19 in-patient hospitalizations within 24 hours.
• Make certain records available.
The document also states by Jan. 4, 2022 employers must ensure employees who are not fully vaccinated are tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if in the workplace at least once a week), or within seven days before returning to work (if away from the workplace for a week or longer).
Additional points outlined in the document include requiring employers to provide work hours for vaccination doses, up to four hours of paid time at the regular rate.
Karger said a memo will be sent to staff, providing a step-by-step review of requirements, to ensure all fully understood them.
When asked who pays for the COVID-19 staff testing, for those who are not vaccinated, Karger said the state has so far. He added tests are not administered at the school.