Legal info about COVID-19 testing of school employees

On July 30, Gov. Kevin Stitt amended his executive order related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within that executive order is a provision for testing school employees for COVID-19: 

Stitt COVID-19 Executive Order about testing employees for COVID

This has stirred many questions about whether the government can mandate employees to take a COVID-19 test. 

The short answer is NO, there is no mandatory COVID-19 testing requirement for school employees or students.

The Executive Order requires the education department and state health department to come up with a plan to provide OPTIONAL testing for school personnel. The testing will be provided by the state using CARES Act and other emergency revenue, and it will provide the option of monthly testing for employees.

Some school districts have already included optional on-site testing of employees and students in their reopening plans. The operative word is optional.

School districts however may be able to require a negative test to return to work for anyone who was symptomatic or who had tested positive. The OEA legal team expects districts will follow the CDC and Oklahoma Health Department recommendations regarding return to work after COVID-19 exposure or infection.

OEA attorneys don’t believe school districts can adopt any mandatory testing protocols without some authority from either the governor in the form of an emergency executive order or the Oklahoma State Department of Education in the form of an emergency rule.  Neither of those events have occurred. 

Come Back Safely

Oklahoma schools need to be able to come back safely. What will that take? Learn more here.