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The Path to Universal COVID-19 Testing in Schools, COVID-19 Vaccine Considerations

By Net Assets posted 11-20-2020 10:47 AM


(From The 74 Million) Last month, the CDC released a framework for testing strategies in schools, in response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement to send roughly 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests to states to use at their discretion. However, despite the availability of new antigen, a recent report from the Rockefeller Foundation suggests that we need 175 million tests per month to test staff and students twice a week for adequate surveillance. Even if schools did have access to this number of monthly tests, with six months of the school year remaining, the price tag would total over $1 billion.

Beyond the resource constraints, schools need to design and implement processes to manage parental authorization for testing that meets privacy laws, capture testing data and securely manage it, and identify personnel to administer the tests — all of which present significant logistical challenges for overstretched school leaders. However, experts say that universal rapid testing combined with masking, screening for symptoms, social distancing and good hygiene practices remains a critical path to a safe and full return to in-person school. 

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(From Morgan Lewis) As the world awaits a successful COVID-19 vaccine, employers are beginning to consider the implications a new vaccine will have on their workplaces, including whether they may require employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine once it is widely available. Given that no vaccine has yet been approved, neither the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) nor the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued specific guidance regarding a COVID-19 vaccine. However, guidance issued by the agencies during the H1N1 epidemic and recently reissued during the current pandemic is instructive: Both EEOC and OSHA said that employers that wished to require employees to receive a seasonal flu vaccine could do so, subject to certain exceptions.

Regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, there is some speculation in the legal community that OSHA may use the OSH Act’s so-called General Duty Clause to issue citations to employers that fail to offer COVID-19 vaccines. At present, there is no OSHA standard that would mandate employers to offer a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available, though OSHA is facing substantial political pressure to publish a temporary standard covering COVID-19, which could address the vaccine issue. Although much remains speculative, employers should weigh the employee relations concerns and potential legal challenges associated with doing so.

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