On Thursday, Nov 4, OSHA released an EmergencyTemporary Standard (ETS) carrying out President Biden’s executive order. To be clear, the District did not initiate this requirement. ETS became law on Nov 5, 2021:
- Temporary rule that is expected to be in place for six months
- Open for formal comment currently
- OSHA would need to release final rule for permanence
- The fact that it is temporary does not mean it is not enforceable
Some have noted that the 5th Circuit of Appeals has put a stay on this OSHA ETS. Iowa resides within the jurisdiction of the 8th Circuit of Appeals. Decisions in the 5th Circuit of Appeals do not have jurisdiction in the 8th Circuit of Appeals. The Governor has joined suit with other states to block the OSHA ETS. However, the State of Iowa does not currently have the authority to remove the requirements contained within the OSHA ETS. Therefore, at this time, the OSHA ETS is in effect for the State of Iowa.
At this point in time, the 8th Circuit has not taken action on the OSHA ETS. It very well could follow the lead of the 5th Circuit, but then again it may not. This could reach the Supreme Court as well. We are unsure of a timetable for that, and we also have no way of knowing what the outcome may be.
What we know as of today is that in the 8th Circuit the OSHA ETS is in effect with the following deadlines:
- December 6, 2021
- Establish policy on vaccination
- Determine vaccination status of each employee
- Provide support for employee vaccination
- Require employees to promptly notify of positive COVID-19 test or diagnosis
- Ensure Employees who are not fully vaccinated wear face coverings while at work
- Provide each employee information about ETS
- Report work-related COVID-19 fatalities to OSHA
- Make certain records available
January 4, 2022
Ensure employees who are not fully vaccinated are tested for COVID-19 at least weekly
The Emmetsburg Community School District is seeking and receiving guidance on this issue from our local legal counsel at Cornwall, Avery, Bjornstad, and Scott in Spencer, Ahlers Cooney Law Firm, and the Iowa Association of School Boards Legal Services.
To be clear the District has not mandated vaccinations for all employees. We have not used terms such as “Jab” or “Inject” in our communications with our staff. The District in no way is taking a political position on this issue. What the District has done is send out to employees the information as we receive it to ensure that they are fully informed as to the OSHA ETS.
The Board of Directors will review and discuss the information contained within the OSHA ETS including the information on the required vaccination policy options. Those options currently are:
- Mandatory Vaccination Policy requiring all employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment
- Employee Choice Policy requiring all employees to be vaccinated or receive weekly testing and wear a mask while at school.
Medical and Religious exemptions are included in the language of the ETS. The District is awaiting additional guidance on these exemptions. This has also been communicated to all employees.
Emmetsburg Community School District recognizes that the rules within the OSHA ETS may conflict with the personal beliefs of some employees and community members. The Emmetsburg Community School District will seek the maximum amount of flexibility within the rules of the OSHA ETS in an attempt to accommodate its employees while maintaining the District’s obligation to follow the law.
Should OSHA change the requirements of the ETS or the 8th Circuit or Supreme Court stay, or vacate the OSHA ETS, the District will adjust accordingly.
Darren D. Hanna
Emmetsburg Community School District