Fall 2021 OEA COVID FAQ

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Health and Safety  |  Professional Issues | Serving Students With Disabilities

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Can I be required to wear a mask while at work?

Yes. Mask requirements are a public health issue and do not fall within the definition of a “term and condition of employment”. The CDC and Ohio Department of Health have identified mask wearing as the next most important thing someone can do to protect against COVID-19 transmission, after being vaccinated.

Can my district require students to wear a mask?

Students can be required to wear a mask while in attendance in any district owned, leased, or rented space. The CDC and Ohio Department of Health have identified mask wearing as the next most important thing someone can do to protect against COVID-19 transmission, after being vaccinated.

Can my employer require me to receive the COVID vaccine?

Vaccination is the single most important thing that anyone can do to help put an end to this pandemic and the disruptions it has caused. Vaccines have been found to be safe and effective in slowing the spread of COVID and significantly reducing the severity of symptoms in people who become infected. On September 9, President Biden announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be developing a temporary emergency standard that will require either a COVID-19 vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing for employees. Under Federal law, OSHA does not have jurisdiction over state and local governmental agencies in Ohio. This requirement does not impact any public school employee.

Ohio public employers cannot unilaterally mandate vaccination to become or remain employed. Any proposed requirement would be considered a change in “terms and conditions of employment”, and as such, must be negotiated with the local union prior to implementation. An employer may ask about your vaccination status, but your response cannot be used to make ANY employment decision, except for quarantining protocols.

Can my employer treat me differently based on my COVID vaccination status?

Disparate treatment because of vaccination status would be a violation of both federal and state law. If you believe you are the subject of unequal treatment, you should contact your OEA Labor Relations Consultant for assistance.

What is the Ohio Department of Health guidance on quarantining if someone is exposed to COVID-19 in the school setting?

On October 25, 2021, the Ohio Department of Health issued alternative guidelines for quarantining after exposure to COVID-19 in the school setting. A copy of the current guidelines can be found here. It should be noted that ODH continues to recommend appropriate social distancing and all students and staff wear a mask regardless of exposure to COVID-19.

What is the Ohio Department of Health guidance on student athlete participation?

On October 25, 2021, the Ohio Department of Health issued a recommendation that all student athletes be tested on competition days where “there is a potential of school-to-school exposure to COVID-19”. The current recommendation can be found here.

As an education employee, am I eligible for a third, “booster” vaccine shot?

If you originally received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine:

You may receive a third, “booster” shot at least six (6) months after completion of the primary series if you are:

  • 65 years of age or older
  • 18 through 64 and are
    • At high risk of severe COVID-19
    • Have underlying medical conditions
    • In an institutional or occupational setting with frequent exposure to COVID-19. (This includes all education employees)

If you originally received the Moderna vaccine:

You may receive a third, “booster” shot at least six (6) months after completion of the primary series if you are:

  • 65 years of age or older
  • 18 through 64 and are
    • At high risk of severe COVID-19
    • In an institutional or occupational setting with frequent exposure to COVID-19. (This includes all education employees)

If you originally received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine:

  • You may receive a single “booster” shot at least two (2) months after receiving the initial dose and you are age 18 or older

Pursuant to the emergency use authorization (EUA) issued on October 20, 2021, individuals that have completed the primary vaccination regime are eligible to “mix and match” their “booster” shot with any available vaccine assuming they are otherwise eligible to receive a “booster”.


What flexibilities still exist regarding the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES 2.0)?

The provision to delay by one year the implementation of OTES 2.0 has expired. Those districts that anticipated implementing in 2020-2021, should now be implementing in 2021-2022. All other districts which have not implemented 2.0 will do so based upon the date of the collective bargaining agreement in effect before November 2018.

However, COVID-19 flexibilities provided by law prohibit the use of SGMs (for OTES 1.0) or HQSD (OTES 2.0) for the 2021-2022 school year. On August 17th, 2021 the Ohio Department of Education released refined information to this point. For more information, please visit: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Teaching/Educator-Evaluation-System/Educator-Evaluation-Systems-Resources-for-Return

What is the status of teacher licensure?

The extended window for re-licensure and the Temporary License (for 2020-2021 education graduates of Ohio) have expired. Additionally, the ability for superintendents to place individuals outside of their Licensure grade level and/or topic is no longer an option. The requirements to employ “appropriately licensed and certified teachers,” including for the purpose of the Third Grade Guarantee Reading, is now applicable.


What are the Evaluation Team Report (ETR) requirements for the 2021-22 school year?

Initial ETR’s must be completed within the 60-day mandated timeline as prescribed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)1 and Ohio Administrative Code 3301-51-06.

Meetings Held Online: Reviews of the evaluation team report can be completed using a virtual format or by telephone. Participation and required signatures can be documented by email attachment, standard mail, scanned signature, photograph of the signature or any other electronic means.

Evaluations and re-evaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations may take place, so long as a student’s parent or legal guardian consents.

A district and/or schools may choose to conduct a records review. This allows the district/schools to update the evaluation without conducting face-to-face assessments and observations if new assessments and observations are not needed. The method of conducting an evaluation team report review and signature collection should be documented in a prior written notice (PR01) consistent with the requirements listed in Ohio Administrative Code 3301-51-05(H).

Face-to-face meetings should be held in a healthy and safe manner according to Ohio Department of Health and State of Ohio guidelines. Federal and state regulations as defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Ohio Administrative Code regarding ETR’s apply and should be followed.

What are the Individualized Education Program (IEP) requirements for the 2021-2022 school year?

It continues to be important for staff and parents to work collaboratively during the 2021-22 school year to continue to support students who receive special education services. This collaboration should be documented by OEA members to ensure that they are providing FAPE as the IEP is reviewed and/or developed.

Meetings Held Online: IEP annual reviews can be completed using a virtual format or via telephone. Participation and required signatures can be documented via email attachment, standard mail, scanned document, photograph of the signature or any other electronic means. The method of IEP team review and signature collection should be documented in a prior written notice form (PR01).

Face-to-face meetings should be done in a healthy and safe manner according to Ohio Department of Health and State of Ohio guidelines. Federal and state regulations as defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Ohio Administrative Code regarding the Individualized Education Program (IEP) apply and should be followed.

How is Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) to be determined for the 2021-2022 school year?

LRE is determined by the student’s IEP team and based upon the student’s unique needs rather than a change in placement due to a district-wide plan. The district’s plan can include many scenarios including a blended learning environment, a remote learning environment, or a traditional (face-to-face) environment. All of these education delivery models can be written into one IEP; however, the statements about a student’s least restrictive environment MUST be individualized to meet that student’s unique needs.

When making determinations of least restrictive environment, IEP teams must consider the following:

  • Depending on the type of instruction, what implications are there for the LRE?
  • How will the student’s individual needs be met to support the student’s LRE?
  • If a parent or guardian has opted to receive all instruction online, how will the IEP reflect the student’s unique educational needs?
  • If the family declines the IEP team’s proposed LRE, did the IEP team discuss alternative options? Does the district have documentation reflecting the refusal, including prior written notice and any other documentation?

What are the requirements of Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) for the 2020-2021 school year?

SDI is determined by analyzing each student’s individual goals, objectives, and needs as written in the student’s IEP. A student’s special education services must be determined by the student’s IEP team on an individual basis. If the school is offering online learning or blended learning, SDI must continue to be provided as written in the student’s IEP. SDI should address what the specialized needs are for the student’s learning in a traditional (face-to-face) environment, blended learning environment, and/or online learning environment. All these scenarios can be written into one IEP; however, the statements about a student’s SDI MUST be individualized to meet that student’s unique needs. Generalized statements for students’ SDI are not appropriate. Data about the provision of any SDI must be kept by teachers or school staff providing the specially designed instruction.

When making determinations for SDI, the IEP team must consider the following:

  • How the specially designed instruction will be provided, be it in-person, in a blended learning curriculum or completely online?
  • How will the IEP team document the provision of SDI?
  • What types of support will the student need to access the SDI

What are the transportation requirements for students with disabilities for the 2021-2022 school year?

Students with disabilities who have transportation needs written in their IEPs must continue to receive specialized transportation, as appropriate. If students with disabilities do not have transportation as a need written in their IEPs, they will receive transportation the same as general education students.

When determining transportation needs for a student with disabilities, the IEP team must consider the following:

  • Does the student require transportation in order to access a FAPE? If so, the IEP team must document this information in the student’s IEP.
  • Does the student require specialized transportation (such as door-to-door) in order to access a FAPE? If so, this must be documented in the student’s IEP.
  • Does the student attend a community school and does the student need specialized transportation? If so, is this written in the student’s IEP?

What is the difference between Recovery and Compensatory services?

Some students receiving special education services may demonstrate they did not make as much progress as expected or otherwise display gaps in their learning. To close these gaps, these students will need additional services and support to resume learning based on their current levels of performance. The term “recovery services,” rather than compensatory services, describes the provision of services for students showing less than expected skills acquisition upon re-entry to school. Recovery services are not about a school or district’s intentional failure to provide services as much as they are a systemic approach to help students recover from service delivery interruptions.

Recovery Services Defined

The IDEA does not define the term “recovery services.” This term is increasingly being used by educators across the country in response to the unprecedented impact COVID-19 has had on schools and student learning. The term recovery services reflects the need of learners to recover from any educational gaps in learning caused by the unexpected school-building closures. Recovery services should be provided to students who had an interruption of services during the ordered school-building closure period in the 2019-2020 school year. The determination to provide recovery services to students with disabilities must be done on a case-by-case basis. These additional services should be based on individual student assessments, needs and IEP progress documentation.

If the determination is made to provide the student with recovery services, the IEP team needs to determine what educational recovery services will be provided to the student. This determination should be made by each student’s IEP team. Recovery services can be provided over an extended period of time and not just in the first weeks of returning to school. It is important that school staff document with specificity the recovery services being provided to students with disabilities while monitoring and tracking individual student progress. This information will be necessary to inform the IEP team in making a future determination as to what additional services may be necessary to ensure the provision of a FAPE.
When describing recovery services in the IEP, staff should clearly note in the “Other Information” section of the IEP that these services are being provided due to the coronavirus-related ordered school-building closure period. Also, note in the IEP that these recovery services are not extended school year (ESY) services.

Compensatory Education Services Defined

Compensatory Education Services are educational services provided to a student because the district failed to provide the special education services listed in the student’s IEP. Compensatory services are a remedy under the IDEA. Compensatory services may be ordered in a complaint investigation report or due process hearing when a school failed to provide a student with a FAPE. Sometimes a school voluntarily will offer a student compensatory services when it becomes aware of an inadvertent failure to provide services required by a specific student’s IEP or other potential FAPE violation. In each of these situations, the purpose of compensatory services is to put the child in the same position he or she would have been if the school had not violated the IDEA.

School districts and parents can mutually agree to the compensatory education services or utilize the dispute resolution options available. Compensatory education can be issued through a corrective action plan triggered by one of the various dispute resolution processes. Information and the timelines for these dispute resolution options are established by the IDEA. Once the determination is made to provide the student with compensatory services, the student’s IEP team needs to determine what educational services will be provided to the student.
For more information about Recovery and Compensatory Services, please visit the following link: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Special-Education/Students-with-disabilities-guidance


What Early Learning and After School Child Care licensing rules will be in effect for the 2021-22 school year?

Ohio’s Licensing specialists will be enforcing all pre-pandemic rules, which include 3301-37 for Preschools and 3301-32 for School-Age Child Care.

What COVID-19 health and safety practices should Pre-School and School Age Child Care follow as programs begin the 2021-22 school year?

Children under the age of 12 are not yet able to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Early Learning and After School Child Care programs should remain vigilant in their efforts to slow the spread of the virus by following all guidance issued from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Schools and Child Care Guidance, updated July 9, 2021. Pre-School and School Age Child Care programs should continue to follow CDC guidance and Ohio Child Licensing and Quality System (OCLQS) guidance for the following:

  • Handwashing: Programs should continue to follow COVID-19 CDC handwashing guidance for employees and children.
  • Symptom assessment, quarantine, isolation, discharge: Programs should follow CDC guidelines for COVID-19 symptom assessment, quarantine and isolation for employees and children.
  • Reporting: Pre-pandemic rule requires programs to report in the Ohio Child Licensing and Quality System (OCLQS) when a serious incident occurs. Positive COVID-19 cases for an employee or child are considered a serious incident and must continue to be reported in OCLQS. Additionally, COVID-19 should be reported to the local health department. The Communicable Disease Chart (JFS 08087) is being updated to require reporting for COVID-19.
  • Masks: Please consult with your program and/or school district for local mask requirements as districts and programs may have a mask requirement in place. While masks are no longer required by the department, it is STRONGLY ENCOURAGED that providers adhere to CDC guidance, which states that unvaccinated populations should still mask and socially distance.

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Updated: October 25, 2021

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Ohio Department of Education Back to School resources: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Back-to-School

Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 Health and Prevention Guidance for Ohio K-12 Schools: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/schools/K-12-Schools-Guidance.pdf

Guidelines for Quarantine After Exposure in K-12 Classroom Settings: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/covid-19-fact-sheet-k-12-exposure-and-quarantine-flow-chart.pdf

CDC Guide to Masks: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html

CDC Booster Shot Information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html