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Interim Procedure on COVID-19 Vaccination for Clinical Participants – Effective August 23, 2022

I.  Purpose

This Procedure is adopted to implement the Interim Policy regarding COVID-19 (“Policy”).

II.  Scope and Applicability

This Procedure applies to all Clinical Participants, as that term is defined in the Policy.

III.  Definitions

A.  All capitalized terms in this Procedure have the meanings provided in the Policy.

B.  All other capitalized terms in this Procedure have the following meanings:

1.  Acceptable Proof of Vaccination includes a copy of:

a. The record of immunization from a health care provider or pharmacy;

b. The COVID-19 vaccination record card;

c. Medical records documenting the vaccination;

d. Immunization records from a public health, state, or tribal immunization information system; or

e. Any other official documentation that contains the individual’s name, type of vaccine administered, date(s) of administration, and the name of the health care professional(s) or clinic site(s) administering the vaccine(s).

2.  COVID Test includes molecular or antigen tests that can detect an active COVID-19 infection, including rapid tests and PCR tests, but does not include antibody tests that look for antibodies in the immune system produced in response to COVID-19 but do not detect active COVID-19 infections.  For purposes of this Vaccination Procedure, the College will not accept reports of a COVID Test result from an at home test.

3.  HR means the Office of Human Resources.

4.  Infraction means a violation of the Policy, this Procedure, the Face Covering Procedure, or the COVID Reporting Procedure.

5.  Program is the program of study in which the Clinical Participant is enrolled or employed.

6.  Public Safety means the College’s Office of Public Safety and Police.

7.  Required Tester means a Student or Employee who is granted an accommodation from the vaccination requirement but is required to provide a weekly COVID Test result in order to participate in the Clinical.

IV.  Proof of Vaccination for Clinical Participants

A.  Clinical Participants must submit Acceptable Proof of Vaccination to the Program, showing that they have been Fully Vaccinated, by the deadline set by the Program.

1. Documentation should generally include the individual’s name, type of vaccine administered, date(s) of administration, and the name of the health care professional(s) or clinic site(s) administering the COVID-19 vaccine(s).

2.  Copies, including digital copies, such as a digital photograph, scanned image, or PDF, must clearly and legibly display the necessary information.

3.  If the Clinical Participant receives a QR code to access their vaccination information, the Clinical Participant must provide a copy of the vaccination information retrieved when the QR code is scanned, not just the QR code.

4.  If a Clinical Participant has attempted to obtain Acceptable Proof of Vaccination from their health care provider and public health information system and has been unable to do so, the Clinical Participant may submit an attestation approved by the Program and the Clinical Site, if required by the Clinical Site.

B.  Validation

1.  The Program will validate the Clinical Participant’s vaccination status.

2.  If the Program determines that a Clinical Participant’s proof of vaccination is not accurate or valid, the College will notify the Clinical Participant to re-submit their proof of vaccination. 

3.  Until the Clinical Participant provides Acceptable Proof of Vaccination that is validated by the Program, the Clinical Participant will not be permitted to go to the Clinical Site, unless the Clinical Participant requests and is granted an accommodation.

V.  Accommodations

A.  Submitting a Request for Accommodation

1. A Clinical Participant who has a medical condition, disability, or sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance that prevents them from receiving any COVID-19 vaccine may be eligible for an accommodation from the requirement to be Fully Vaccinated, depending on the circumstances.

2. Accommodations are not guaranteed, and the decision to provide an accommodation will be made at the College’s sole discretion following an interactive process.

3. The College’s ability to provide an accommodation depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to, the Clinical Participant’s specific needs; the nature of the Clinical Participant’s courses or job duties; and the safety of the Clinical Participant, other students and employees, patients and employees of Clinical Sites, and the public, and whether the accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the College or a direct threat to the safety of the Clinical Participant or others.

4. A Clinical Participant may seek an accommodation by submitting a request for accommodation using the Accommodation Request Form for Clinicals (“Request Form”).

5. Requests for accommodations due to medical or disability reasons must be supported by documentation from a health care provider. 

6. Infection-Induced Immunity

a. While the science around COVID-19 infection-induced immunity and naturally occurring antibodies is evolving, there is not enough evidence for the College to consider infection-induced immunity or naturally occurring antibodies as sufficient to reduce exposure to, or reinfection from, COVID-19 and thus, the College will not consider prior infection with COVID-19 as a basis for an accommodation from the Policy or this Procedure.

b. If a Clinical Participant has been treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma within the last ninety (90) days before the Clinical will start, the Clinical Participant may request a medical deferral using the Request Form and must provide documentation from a medical provider and noting the last day of the treatment.

7. A Clinical Participant who is seeking an accommodation may not be able to participate in a Clinical until the College has made a decision regarding the request for accommodation.

B.  Deadlines

1. A Clinical Participant who is employed by the College or enrolled in a Clinical on the Effective Date of this Procedure must submit a Request Form.

2. New Employees who will be Clinical Participants must submit a Request Form prior to their start date but in no event less than three (3) Business Days after their start date.

3. New Students who are Clinical Participants must submit a Request Form and obtain approval of an accommodation prior to the deadline set forth in writing by the Program.

4. Failure to comply with the deadlines set forth above may result in a delay in starting a Clinical, in the College’s sole discretion.

5. A Clinical Participant who was denied a request for accommodation in a previous semester may submit a new Request Form for subsequent semesters.

C.  Processing Requests for Accommodation

1. Requests for accommodations to the requirements in the Policy and this Procedure may take up to fourteen (14) days to process.

2. Decision Makers

a. Requests for accommodation submitted by Clinical Participants who are Employees will be decided by the Executive Director of HR.

b. Requests for accommodation for disability or medical reasons submitted by Clinical Participants who are Students will be decided by Disability Support Services staff.

c. Requests for accommodation for religious reasons submitted by Clinical Participants who are Students will be decided by a panel of three (3) staff members within the Office of the Dean of Student Development.

3. After an accommodation request has been reviewed and processed, the Clinical Participant will be notified via email to their College-issued email account if an accommodation has been approved or denied.

4. Unless and until an accommodation is approved, the Clinical Participant will not be permitted to go to the Clinical Site.

5. If granted an accommodation, the Clinical Participant will be required to provide a negative COVID Test result to the College for each week that the Clinical Participant goes to the Clinical Site. See COVID Testing Section below.

6. If denied an accommodation, it may preclude a Student from successful course and program completion and/or an Employee from performing the essential functions of the Employee’s job.

D. Right to Appeal

1. If a Clinical Participant wishes to appeal a decision regarding a request for accommodation related to the Policy or this Procedure, the Clinical Participant must submit an appeal via email to the Decision Maker listed below within three (3) calendar days of the decision being sent to the Clinical Participant and include the reasons for the appeal:

a. Employees Medical/Disability/Religious Appeals – Provost/Vice President of Learning

b. Student Medical/Disability Appeals – Director of Disability Support Services

c. Student Religious Appeals – Dean of Student Development

2. If an appeal is not granted, a Clinical Participant may appeal that decision by submitting an appeal via email to second level decision maker listed below within three (3) calendar days of the appeal decision being sent to the Clinical Participant and include the reasons for the appeal:

a. Employees Medical/Disability/Religious Appeals – Vice President of Learning Resources Management

b. Student Medical/Disability Appeals – Dean of Student Success

c. Student Religious Appeals – Vice President of Learner Support Services

3. Appeal decisions made by the second level decision maker are final and cannot be appealed or grieved.

E. Recertification

1. Accommodations will only be granted for one semester.

2. If a Clinical Participant is granted an accommodation, the notice will include an expiration date.

3. The Clinical Participant must file a request to recertify at least two (2) weeks prior to the expiration date.

4. If a Clinical Participant fails to recertify and provide a copy of the decision to the program, the Clinical Participant may not be permitted to go to the Clinical Site. 

F. Clinical Site Requirements

1. Even if the College were to grant a request for an accommodation, the Clinical Site may not accept the College’s determination, which may preclude a Student from successful course and program completion and/or an Employee from performing the essential functions of the Employee’s job.

2. If the Clinical Site requires a Clinical Participant to be Fully Vaccinated, be Up-to-Date, submit to COVID-19 testing, or any other requirement regarding COVID-19, the Clinical Participant must separately seek an accommodation directly from the Clinical Site, unless the Clinical Site has confirmed in writing that it will permit the College to make determinations regarding accommodations on the Clinical Site’s behalf.

a. A Clinical Participant is responsible for knowing the Clinical Site’s rules and if required by the Clinical Site, requesting an exemption or accommodation directly from the Clinical Site.  Please note that some Clinical Sites will not consider requests for exemption or accommodation from their vaccine mandate.

b. If the Clinical Site grants an exemption or accommodation, the Clinical Participant must submit a copy of the decision to the Program at least two (2) weeks prior to the start date of the Clinical.

i. If an accommodation request is granted by the Clinical Site, the College will abide by the Clinical Site’s determination; however, the Clinical Site’s determination does not guarantee that the College will grant an accommodation with respect to its vaccine mandate for Clinicals.

ii. If an accommodation request is denied by the Clinical Site, the Clinical Participant will not be permitted to go to the Clinical Site. 

c. If the Clinical Site requires the College to collect information regarding the Clinical Participant being Up-to-Date, the Clinical Participant must submit proof of being Up-to-Date to the Program.

VI. COVID Testing

A. COVID Test Requirements

1. Clinical Participants who receive an accommodation will become Required Testers, subject to this Section.

2. COVID Tests are available for free from Anne Arundel County Health Department testing sites.  For county-run sites, visit COVID-19 Testing.

3. The College will accept COVID Test results from an Anne Arundel County Health Department testing site or a medical provider, including a pharmacy such as CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, etc.; however, the College will not reimburse Required Testers for the cost of a COVID Test.

4. The College will not accept self-administered tests or antibody tests that look for antibodies in the immune system produced in response to COVID-19 but do not detect active COVID-19 infections.

5. The College will accept molecular or antigen tests that can detect an active COVID-19 infection, including rapid tests or PCR tests.

a. Samples for diagnostic tests are typically collected with a nasal or throat swab or saliva collected by spitting into a tube.

b. A COVID Test must have been conducted or supervised by a medical provider, including a pharmacy such as CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, etc.

c. The COVID Test must be processed by the medical provider.

6. COVID Test results must include the Required Tester’s full name, date of birth, specimen collection date (the date of the test), type of test, the entity issuing the result (e.g., laboratory, healthcare entity), and the test result in one official document.

7. Screen shots of text messages with COVID Test results will not be accepted.

B. Submission of Test Survey Every Week

1. Required Testers must be tested for COVID-19 at least once every seven (7) days during the Clinical.

2. Regardless of work or class schedules, Required Testers must submit a Test Survey on Wednesday each week.  Please note that the submission of the Test Survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete.

3. The College will send an email to every Required Testers’ College-issued email account, providing them with a link to submit a Test Survey on Wednesday each week.

4. In the Test Survey, Required Testers must either:

a. Upload a copy of a COVID Test result that was administered within the seven (7) days prior to the date of submission of the Test Survey; or

b. Confirm that the Required Tester will not be present at a Clinical Site at any time during the next seven (7) days (i.e., the Thursday through Wednesday immediately following the date that the Required Tester submits the Test Survey).

5. Upon submission of the Test Survey to the College on Wednesday, the Required Tester will be cleared to go to the Clinical Site during the next seven (7) days, unless the Required Tester otherwise tests positive, experiences symptoms, or is in Close Contact with a person with COVID-19.

C. Failure to Submit the Test Survey

1. If a Required Tester does not provide a Test Survey to the College on Wednesday or the College determines the COVID Test submitted is invalid, the Required Tester will not be permitted to enter the Clinical Site until the Required Tester provides a Test Survey, and may be subject to discipline, as set forth below.

2. If the Required Tester enters a Clinical Site without having provided a COVID Test result, the Required Tester may be subject to discipline, as set forth below.

D. Positive COVID Test

1. If a Required Tester tests positive for COVID-19 or has been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a licensed healthcare provider, once the Required Tester is cleared to return to the Clinical Site, the Required Tester should comply with the directives of the COVID Safety Staff regarding the type of testing to be conducted.

2. In addition to uploading the positive COVID Test result using the Test Survey, the Required Tester must follow the COVID Reporting Procedure.

VII. Enforcement

A. Employees

1. If an Employee who is a Clinical Participant is not Fully Vaccinated and has not been granted an accommodation by the College and the Clinical Site, if required, the Employee may not be able to participate in a Clinical and may not be able to perform the essential functions of the job, which could lead to termination of employment.

2. If an Employee who is a Required Tester does not submit a Test Survey, and a valid COVID Test result, when required, the Employee will be prohibited from entering the Clinical Site until the Employee submits a Test Survey.

3. If an Employee commits an Infraction, the Employee’s supervisor will consult with HR to determine the disciplinary action after considering any mitigating circumstances, the gravity of the Infraction(s) involved, previous Infractions by an Employee, or other disciplinary action in the Employee’s personnel file.

4. Progressive discipline related to Infractions will typically include the following steps:

a. Verbal warning, which is an oral statement to an Employee from the appropriate supervisor describing the Employee’s Infraction and documented in the Employee’s personnel file;

b. Written warning, which is a written statement to an Employee from the Employee’s supervisor describing the Employee’s Infraction, and advising that failure to correct the behavior or its recurrence may be grounds for discipline, up to and including termination of employment;

c. Unpaid suspension, which is a period of time determined by the College that the Employee may not perform work and will not be paid due to an Employee’s Infraction and during which the Employee is not permitted to use available accrued leave and will be in a leave without pay status; and

d. Termination, which is dismissal from the College for an Employee’s Infraction.

5. The College reserves the right to combine or skip steps depending on the facts of each situation and the nature of the Infraction.

6. HR must approve any disciplinary action, beyond a verbal warning, for an Infraction(s) in advance of the supervisor taking disciplinary action.

a. All disciplinary action will be documented in the Employee’s personnel file maintained by HR.

b. A supervisor may issue a verbal warning for an Infraction without first consulting with HR but must document the verbal warning in writing and submit it to HR for inclusion in the Employee’s personnel file.

B. Students

1. If a Student is a Clinical Participant and is not Fully Vaccinated and has not been granted an accommodation by the College and the Clinical Site, if required, the Student will not be able to complete their Clinical and may not be able to successfully complete their program of study.

2. If a Student who is a Required Tester does not submit a Test Survey and a valid COVID Test result, when required, the Student will be prohibited from entering the Clinical Site until the Student submits a Test Survey.

3. If a Student commits an Infraction, the Student may be referred to the Office of Community Standards to take disciplinary action pursuant to the Student Code of Conduct.

Policy Title: Interim Procedure on COVID-19 Vaccination for Clinical Participants

Policy Category: General

Policy Owner: President

Policy Administrator: Vice President of Learning Resources Management

Contact Information: mabeardmore@aacc.edu; 410-777-2532

Approval Date: August 23, 2022

Effective Date: August 23, 2022

History: Interim Procedure on Vaccination, Testing, and Face Coverings adopted on January 26, 2022; Revised and retitled on March 24, 2022; Revised August 23, 2022

Applies to: All Clinical Participants, as defined in the Policy

Related Policies: Interim Policy regarding COVID-19

Related Procedures:

Forms/Guidelines: Accommodation Request Form for Clinicals

Relevant Laws: N/A