On Thursday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the United States Department of Labor released the much anticipated Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) covering COVID-19 vaccination and testing for employers with more than 100 employees. Because of how these types of rules apply to Michigan, we would normally need to wait as much as 30 days for MIOSHA to promulgate rules before we could understand how this will impact school districts. However, based on conversations that MASSP and others have had with MIOSHA, the state does not plan to go any further than the federal standard and will in fact adopt the standard “by reference," meaning that we already know all the details about what these requirements will look like in Michigan, including the deadlines.

MASSP is working with MASA and MIOSHA to organize a webinar later this month to review this order. In the meantime, let's review the basics of what this means for schools.

  • The ETS requires that employers with over 100 employees either "develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy" OR "establish, implement, and enforce a policy allowing  employees who are not fully vaccinated to elect to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at the workplace."
  • An employee means someone who works part time or full time for the district. A volunteer is not considered an employee, but check with your school attorney to make sure you have an accurate definition of who is considered a volunteer. Third party contractors (e.g. custodial services, bus drivers, food service, etc.) do not count as school employees.
  • The ETS will remain in place for up to six months from November 5, 2021. After that, federal OSHA would be required to incorporate the ETS into a permanent standard for it to remain in effect.
  • Here are the deadlines MASSP was given in our conversation with MIOSHA :
    • By December 6, 2021 schools must come into compliance with everything in the ETS except the testing protocol. This includes the following requirements:
      • Establish 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
    • By January 4, 2022 schools must ensure employees who are not fully vaccinated are tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if the employee is in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days before returning to work (if the employee is away from the workplace for a week or longer)
  • Employers must provide employees with paid leave time (up to 4 hours) to get their vaccinations and paid leave time – if needed – to recover from their vaccinations. Employers can require that employees use personal sick time for this purpose if they have it available. Some districts are organizing vaccination and booster days for staff in order to help manage the scheduling challenges this could create.
  • An employee is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving an approved COVID-19 vaccine that requires only one dose, or two weeks after receiving the second dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses.
  • The penalties for non-compliance in Michigan are lower than the federal OSHA penalties that have been reported in the press: $7K per citation up to $70K max for willful and repeat violation.

Since we know the Michigan rule will mirror the federal one, here are a few resources from OSHA that you can take a look at to get answers to your detailed questions.