(August 24, 2022) — In light of the updated COVID-19 guidelines put forth by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force recently met to discuss a number of adjusted workplace protocols, particularly pertaining to vaccination status, masking, distancing, and COVID-19 testing. While these protocols are generally expected to go into effect immediately, the task force asserts that some guidelines are still in flux and will be solidified more in the coming weeks.
Updated COVID-19 Workplace Safety Protocols
For most agencies, COVID-19 workplace safety protocols will not vary on the basis of one's vaccination status.
Some agencies may still have their own agency specific vaccination requirements, and those agencies will still collect vaccination documentation information.
Attendees at federally-hosted meetings, events, and conferences will no longer be asked about their vaccination status, unless attendees are accessing a facility that still requires vaccination information.
If COVID-19 community levels are high where a federal facility is located, masking is required.
CDC guidance now emphasizes the importance of wearing a high-quality mask or respirator (N95 or KN95 equivalent, or disposable surgical mask).
Most federal agencies will no longer require screening testing.
For those agencies that do require screening testing, it will not vary on the basis of vaccination status.
Screening testing focus will be on high risk communities and settings:
Facilities where COVID-19 transmission has proven to be high
Communities with a higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 (ex. nursing homes, firefighter camps, etc.)
In these environments, serial screening testing, or the periodic testing of all individual employees in that setting, may be implemented. More information about serial screening testing will be forthcoming in the following weeks.
Exposure, Quarantine, & Isolation
All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, now follow the same protocol after exposure to a positive COVID-19 case.
CDC no longer recommends quarantine for individuals not up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations.
An exposed individual must:
immediately wear a high-quality mask or respirator while working indoors for 10 full days from the date they were exposed;
take precautions, such as physically distancing themselves from others;
watch for COVID-19 for symptoms for 10 full days from the date they were exposed;
test on or after day six past their exposure (test will be provided by agency).
If an employee tests positive, isolation is required for five full days following the positive test.
Employees may return to work if, after day five, they present no fever for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
Upon returning to work, employees must wear a high-quality mask for 10 full days after their first day of symptoms, or, if asymptomatic, 10 full days from their positive test.
Employees may unmask if they take two antigen tests, 48 hours apart, beginning on or after day six post-exposure, and each antigen test produces a negative result.
NWSEO members with questions about these updated protocols as they relate to their own positions in their line office may email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please understand that there may be questions for which NWSEO leadership may not have answers, as much of the information provided by the task force may be transient or nonspecific.
Initial Implementation Guidance for Federal Agencies on Updates to Federal Agency COVID-19 Workplace Safety Protocols
Updated Implementation Guidance for Federal Agencies on COVID-19 Community Levels
Frequently Asked Questions Related to Compliance with the Applicable Preliminary Nationwide Injunction on Implementation and Enforcement of the Vaccination Requirement Pursuant to Executive Order 14043