Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Feb 03, 2022

OREGON: Masks and vaccines “permanent” in health care and schools

COVID-19Safety and Health 

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recently replaced its temporary rules regarding masks and COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccines in health care settings and schools with “permanent” rules, with the intent to rescind them when they’re no longer needed to prevent the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, Oregon’s general statewide indoor mask mandate (another temporary rule) is set to expire on February 8, 2022. OHA is evaluating whether to also make that mask mandate “permanent.” In Oregon, a temporary rule cannot be renewed or extended beyond 180 days, so OHA may feel it’s simpler to go through the regular rulemaking process and issue a permanent rule rather than reissuing temporary rules every 180 days.

Schools: The permanent rules for K-12 schools took effect upon publication on January 28, 2022. One rule requires universal masking for everyone in the schools and another rule requires teachers, school staff, and volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Health care: The permanent rules for health care settings took effect upon publication on January 31, 2022. One rule requires universal masking in health care settings and other rule requires health care providers and health care staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tips: Interestingly, OHA’s vaccination rules for schools and health care don’t require workers to be “up to date” (i.e., boosted if eligible for a booster shot), even though OHA has adopted the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s guidance on quarantine and isolation, which treats “fully vaccinated” but unboosted workers the same as unvaccinated workers. OHA’s vaccination rules merely say that employers in schools and health care may choose to impose more restrictive or additional requirements, such as requiring workers to have a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if recommended by the CDC.

If OHA follows the same approach it did with the mask mandates for school and health care employers, it will wait until February 8, 2022, to announce whether Oregon’s general statewide indoor mask mandate will continue in the form of a “permanent” rule. We suggest keeping an eye on local news sources that day to see what they decide; we’ll capture any changes in our next newsletter.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.

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