Due to a temporary emergency standard issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Cambridge City Council and Cambridge-Isanti School Board have adopted a policy of vaccination, testing and covering the faces of employees during of meetings held on January 3.
Cambridge city administrator Evan Vogel explained that on December 17, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeal dissolved the suspension that had been put in place by the 5th Circuit Court, stopping the application of the OSHA Temporary Emergency Standard. As a result, new timelines have been set and the temporary emergency standard is expected to go into effect on January 10, with testing scheduled to begin on February 9.
According to a position paper provided by OSHA, the temporary emergency standard is to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. The standard sets out binding requirements to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers (100 or more employees) from the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. The standard requires employers to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 policy.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court is due to hear oral arguments on the temporary emergency standard on Jan. 7, and policies passed by the city council and school board are only in effect if required by law.
The policies adopted by council and council are very similar, with only minor changes regarding city or school district.
The temporary emergency standard requires employers to determine each employee’s immunization status, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination, keep records of each employee’s immunization status, and maintain a list of each employee’s immunization status. The policy states that independent contractors or volunteers are not considered employees for the purposes of the policy.
Vogel and Shawn Kirkeide, director of human resources and administrative services at Cambridge-Isanti schools, said the policy does not impose a vaccination mandate on its employees in order to comply with the requirements of the Temporary Emergency Standards.
Any employee who is not fully vaccinated by February 9 will be subject to the weekly testing and face coverage requirements of the policy until they are fully vaccinated. The face covering requirements set out in the policy will begin on January 10 or when the face covering requirement in the standard becomes legally enforceable, whichever is later. The weekly testing requirements set out in the policy will begin on February 9 or when the stated testing requirements become legally enforceable, whichever is later.
Vogel and Kirkeide both said the logistics of the tests are still being worked out, such as where the tests will take place. Vogel said the city may consider setting a designated time at Cambridge Medical Center for weekly testing or having an option where testing is administered at Cambridge City Hall. Kirkeide said the school district’s COVID-19 testing is currently taking place at nurses’ offices in each school building, but noted that the district has employees who work outside of school buildings.
Regarding face coverings, the Temporary Emergency Standard states that all employees must wear a face cover inside or in a vehicle when occupied by other passengers. The only exceptions to the requirement to cover the face are when the employee is alone in a room with the door closed; or for a limited time while the employee is eating or drinking.
A slight difference in policies is that the city of Cambridge has said it will pay for the costs of COVID-19 testing when the test is obtained from a city-approved testing location and provider. School district policy states that it “may pay for employee testing, but is not legally required to do so.”
Both policies also state that an employee may be entitled to reasonable accommodation if they are unable to comply with the requirements of the policy due to a medical condition, disability or disability. sincere religious belief, practice or observance. Reasonable accommodation requests must be made by the employee and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis for the city and school district.
Vogel and Kirkeide have said their respective entities will face thousands of dollars in fines if OSHA’s temporary emergency standard is not met. Kirkeide noted that any complaints filed with OSHA regarding non-compliance will be investigated by OSHA.