Public comments are currently being sought on proposed amendments to the “CHCC School and Child Care Facilities and Communicable Disease Rules and Regulations” to add COVID-19 vaccinations as a requirement for obtaining health certificates and possibly also for enrolling in “any public or private school within the Commonwealth.”
Comments are due within 30 days from the date of publication of the notice, which was Oct. 28, and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. asks those submitting comments to share all relevant data, views, or arguments.
Those with comments on the matter may send them to CHCC chief executive officer Esther L. Muña by fax or email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject header, “Attn: Revision to CHCC School and Child Care Facilities Regulations, and Communicable Diseases Rules and Regulations.”
One proposed amendment would be to include proof of COVID-19 vaccination as an additional requirement for obtaining a health certificate.
Currently, Section 140-20.4-201 of CHCC’s school rules and regulations read that “any person who desires to work in, or attend, a school/child care facility shall be physically examined by the Department of Public Health or a licensed physician in private practice and shall be issued a health certificate stating that the applicant employee or student is free of pathogens and parasites and other forms of communicable diseases,” and that “no person shall be allowed to attend to any client of a school/child care facility who has been found to be infected with any form of communicable disease.”
Currently listed diseases that one must be vaccinated or immunized against for the purpose of receiving a health certificate include diphtheria; pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles (rubeola), mumps, and rubella (German measles), and hepatitis B.
The proposed amendment will to include “COVID-19 and its variants (to the extent the child is eligible to receive the vaccine)” to this list of diseases.
Another proposed amendment is to section 140-10.3-365, regarding vaccination and immunization. Currently, the section reads, “No child shall be enrolled in any public or private school within the Commonwealth unless evidence is presented to the enrolling officer that the child has had all such vaccinations or immunizations, including but not limited to diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles (rubeola), mumps and rubella (German measles), [and] hepatitis B.” The proposed amendment is to include “COVID-19 and its variants (to the extent the child is eligible to receive the vaccine).”
Section 140-10.3-365 currently acknowledges that vaccination exemptions for religious reasons can be obtained.
“…exemption may be granted upon certification by a parent or legal guardian that such vaccination or immunization would be against their religious belief or a child that has been certified by a licensed medical doctor that said child shall be exempt from this section where medical contraindication to receiving a specific vaccine exists,” it reads.
According to CHCC’s legal counsel through information obtained Monday by CHCC public information officer Guillermo Lifoifoi, first in this process is the 30-day comment period ending Nov. 28.
Next, CHCC’s board will meet to consider the comments and, “if requested, issue a statement for or against its adoption,” said Lifoifoi. Then the regulations will then need to be approved by the Office of the Attorney General. After the attorney general approves, the regulations are published, and they become effective 10 days after publication and AG approval.
The public notice making known CHCC’s proposed amendments were put on record at the Commonwealth Law Revision Commission’s Commonwealth Register, and was signed by Muña and CHCC board of trustees chair Lauri B. Ogumoro on Oct. 28. The public notice was received on Oct. 28 by Mathilda A. Rosario, who is the Governor’s Special Assistant for Administration, and filed and recorded on Oct. 29 by Esther R.M. San Nicholas at the Commonwealth Registrar.