On November 19, 2020, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board unanimously adopted emergency temporary regulations regarding measures that all employers, including schools and community colleges, must undertake in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. On November 30, 2020, the Office of Administrative Law approved the temporary workplace safety standards, to take effect immediately.

Local educational agencies must take immediate action to ensure their policies and protocols conform with the new regulations, which supplements general and industry-specific guidance that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has provided since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The standards provide limited exceptions for businesses where all employees work remotely or only one employee is employed who does not have contact with others.

Employers must prepare, implement, and maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program (CPP), in a form readily understandable for employees, that address the following:

  • System for communicating information to employees about COVID-19 prevention procedures, testing, symptoms and illnesses, including a system for employees to report exposures without fear of retaliation.
  • Identification and evaluation of hazards – screening employees for symptoms, identifying workplace conditions and practices that could result in potential exposure.
  • Investigating and responding to cases in the workplace – responding immediately to potential exposures by following steps to determine who may have been exposed, providing notice within one business day about potential exposures, and offering testing to workers who may have been exposed. Testing is to be offered at no cost to employees during their working hours to all employees who had potential COVID-19 exposure in the workplace and provide them with the information on benefits described in subsections (c)(5)(B) and (c)(10)(C).
  • Correcting COVID-19 hazards – including correcting unsafe conditions and work practices as well as providing effective training and instruction.
  • Physical distancing – implementing procedures to ensure workers stay at least six feet apart from other people if possible.
  • Face coverings – providing face coverings and ensuring they are worn.
  • Adopting site-specific strategies such as changes to the workplace and work schedules and providing personal protective equipment to reduce exposure to the virus.
  • Positive COVID-19 case and illness recording requirements and making the COVID-19 Prevention Plan accessible to employees and employee representatives.
  • Removal of COVID-19 exposed workers and COVID-19 positive workers from the workplace with measures to protect pay and benefits.
  • Criteria for employees to return to work after recovering from COVID-19.
  • Requirements for testing and notifying public health departments of workplace outbreaks (three or more cases in a workplace in a 14-day period) and major outbreaks (20 or more cases within a 30-day period).
  • Specific requirements for infection prevention in employer-provided housing and transportation to and from work.


According to the Cal/OSHA press release, the board will expeditiously convene a stakeholder meeting that will include industry and labor representatives to review the requirements of the emergency regulation and solicit feedback and recommend updates.

CASBO is part of a coalition of public and private sector organizations that will continue to raise serious concerns on the impact of these emergency regulations.