COVID-19 Updates and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

COVID-19 UPDATES

BUILDING OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Our office is open during normal hours of operation Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except State holidays. In accordance with a Sacramento County Public Health Order effective July 30, 2021, all visitors must wear a face covering while in the building.

To help support physical distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19, we strongly encourage our stakeholders to continue to take advantage of our online resources and services or email our staff at speechandhearing@dca.ca.gov.

PUBLIC ORDERS AND INFORMATION

For up-to-date information on COVID-19 issues, including updates on the viruses spread and finding services such as disability or unemployment benefits, visit the state’s consolidated services page at https://covid19.ca.gov.

For statewide safety measures, visit https://covid19.ca.gov/safely-reopening.

For the most up-to-date COVID-19 guidance for health care professionals and health care facilities, please visit the California Department of Public Health's (CDPH's) COVID-19 UPDATES webpage at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx.

COVID-19 Vaccine

As of May 12, 2021, all Californians over age 12 are eligible to get vaccinated

For up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the state's COVID-19 vaccine page at https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/. This website has information on vaccination eligibility, how to sign up for an appointment via MyTurn.ca.gov, local health jurisdiction vaccine resources, and more. Visit https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/#How-to-get-vaccinated for more information.

COVID-19 SPEECH AND HEARING RELATED WAIVERS

On March 30, 2020 Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-39-20, available at https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/3.30.20-EO-N-39-20.pdf. Executive Order N-39-20 authorized the director of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to waive any of the professional licensing requirements relating to healing arts licensees in Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code, and any accompanying regulations. This includes, but is not limited to, the examination, education, experience, and training requirements necessary to obtain and maintain licensure, and requirements governing the practice and permissible activities for licensees.

With Californiaís economy reopening, students returning to the classroom and overall improved conditions in the state, the Board has been informed by the Department of Consumer Affairs that its remaining active law waivers that were put in place due to the COVID-19 State of Emergency will end on October 31, 2021. The Board and DCA thanks you for your continued dedication to serving California consumers.

REACTIVATION WAIVER

Approved October 29, 2021, DCA Waiver DCA-21-200 Order Extending DCA-20-02, 20-57, 20-91, 21-165, and 21-187 Order Waiving License Reactivation or Restoration Requirements waived requirements for inactive, retired, or canceled licensees and waived the continuing education (CE) and fees associated with reactivation for Speech-Language Pathologists. Licenses that were reactivated under this waiver will expire on January 1, 2022 and after January 1, the temporary license will expire, and the license will be returned to its former status.

For those who would like to continue practicing after January 1, you will need to reactivate using the regular reactivation process and form available at https://www.speechandhearing.ca.gov/forms_pubs/reactivate.pdf.

EXAMINATION AND CE WAIVER

Approved September 28, 2021, DCA Waiver DCA-21-194 Order Waiving License Renewal Requirements (Division 2) temporarily waived the CE requirements for renewal for Board licensees that expired between March 31, 2020 and October 31, 2021 until March 28, 2022. After March 28, 2022, the licensees must have satisfied the CE requirements for their specific license type, including any requirements for live or live-interactive course hours.

IN PERSON SUPERVISION WAIVER FOR RPE AND SLPA LICENSEES

Approved August 31, 2021, DCA Waiver DCA-21-192 Order Extending DCA 20-11, Order Waiving In-Person Supervision Requirements for Speech-Language Pathology Assistants and Required Professional Experience Temporary Licensees waived in-person supervision requirements for Required Professional Experience (RPEs) and Speech-Language Pathology Assistants (SLPAs) through October 31, 2021. DCA-21-192 and its predecessors, waived the in-person "personal observation" for "direct monitoring" requirement for the supervision of RPEs under Title 16 California Code of Regulations (CCR) section 1399.153.3(d) and the "on-site observation" for "direct supervision" requirement for the supervision of SLPAs under 16 CCR section 1399.170. This waiver was in effect from May 6, 2020 through October 31, 2021.

NOTE: For RPE supervision hours received after October 31, 2021, the Board cannot accept telesupervision as meeting the required eight (8) hours of supervision per month for the experience to count towards licensure. Arrangements for in-person supervision will need to be made regardless of whether telehealth/teletherapy is continued to be utilized to provide care to the patient to ensure that the RPE has eight (8) hours of in-person direct supervision per month.

As is allowed under current law and as appropriate, telehealth can still be provided by RPEs or SLPAs, but the supervision requirements would return to in-person "personal observation" for "direct monitoring" of RPEs and the "on-site observation" for "direct supervision" of SLPAs. NOTE: On September 27, 2021, Governor Newsom issued a news release to announce the signing of an Executive Order to extend telehealth services expansion, as detailed below.

New Telehealth Information Pursuant to Executive Order N-16-21:
The Governorís new Executive Order, N-16-21, issued on September 27, 2021, does the following:

  1. Extends the previous Executive Orderís provisions relaxing certain state privacy and security laws for medical providers, which were set to expire on September 30, 2021, through the end of the state of emergency or until the original order is rescinded or modified
  2. Rescinds the previous Executive Orderís provision that suspended the requirements specified in Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 2290.5(b). BPC ß2290.5(b) states the following: (b) Before the delivery of health care via telehealth, the health care provider initiating the use of telehealth shall inform the patient about the use of telehealth and obtain verbal or written consent from the patient for the use of telehealth as an acceptable mode of delivering health care services and public health. The consent shall be documented.

In short, Board licensees utilizing telehealth are again required to obtain consent prior to the delivery of health care via telehealth pursuant to BPC section 2290.5(b). DCA strongly urges review of the applicable statutes and regulations related to telehealth to ensure compliance with the law.

REQUIRED PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE TEMPORARY LICENSE EXPIRATION WAIVER

Approved August 31, 2021, DCA Waiver DCA-21-171 Order Waiving Speech-Language Pathologist or Audiologist Required Professional Experience Temporary License Expiration waived the limitation that RPE licenses could be reissued for no more than 12 months and waives the limitation against reissuing an RPE license due to the licenseeís inability to take and pass the licensing examinations. DCA-21-171 and its predecessors, removed the limitation that an RPE License cannot be reissued for more than 12 months in Title 16 California Code of Regulations (CCR) section 1399.153.10(a) for RPE licenses that were already reissued and would have expired between March 31, 2020 and October 31, 2021. The waiver also removed the limitation that a Speech-Language Pathology or Audiology RPE License cannot be reissued or extended due to the licensee's inability to take and pass the licensing examinations in 16 CCR section 1399.153.10(a). This waiver authorized the Board to extend an already reissued RPE License for an additional six (6) months without paying the $35 application fee and to approve an RPE License reissuance for the purposes of taking and passing the respective licensing examinations in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.

NOTE: For already reissued RPE licenses, there will be no additional 6-month extensions granted that were not already granted under prior extensions of this waiver. For those reissued RPEs that still need to accrue experience for the purposes of licensure, they should submit a new RPE application and experience will be reviewed to transfer approved weeks/months of experience to the new RPE license. For those RPEs that have not been reissued, inability to take and pass the licensing examinations no longer counts as a reason to extend an RPE license. RPE Licenses that are eligible for extension and need to be extended must submit the RPE Extension Application and $35 fee to the Board.

WAIVING TEMPORARY AND TRAINEE HEARING AID DISPENSER LICENSE EXPIRATION

Approved August 31, 2021, DCA Waiver DCA-21-188 Order Extending DCA 20-16, 20-58, 20-92, 21-121, 21-147, 21-166 Order Waiving Temporary and Trainee Hearing Aid Dispenser License Expiration waived the statutory limitations on renewing Hearing Aid Dispenser (HAD) Temporary Licenses and the limitation on the number of times a HAD Trainee license can be renewed. This waiver removed the limitation that HAD Temporary Licenses cannot be renewed in Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 2538.27(b) and extends for six (6) months HAD Trainee Licenses that have been renewed twice in BPC section 2538.28(c). DCA Waivers DCA-20-16, DCA-20-58, DCA-20-92, DCA-21-121, DCA-21-147, DCA-21-166, and DCA-21-188 authorize the Board to extend the expiration date of HAD Temporary Licenses and HAD Trainee Licenses by six (6) months for eligible licensees. These waivers applied to HAD Temporary Licenses and HAD Trainee Licenses that have already renewed twice via the normal renewal process and expire between March 31, 2020 through October 31, 2021.

For those HAD Temporary and HAD Trainee licensees that no longer qualify for extensions, practice must cease after the expiration date of your license and you must pass both the written and practical examinations in order to become permanently licensed and resume practice. HAD Trainee licensees that qualify for renewal should renew their license via the normal renewal process.

FAQS

IS THE BOARD WAIVING CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS?

The Board is only authorized to waive statutory and regulatory requirements through the DCA Waiver process. Approved DCA Waivers that impact Board licensees are detailed in the COVID-19 Speech and Hearing Related Waivers section above.

SHOULD MY BUSINESS OR PRACTICE REMAIN OPEN? WHAT LIMITATIONS ARE THERE ON MY BUSINESS?

The Board does not have jurisdiction over this issue and cannot tell individual licensees whether they or their businesses should remain open and what limitations may apply to their business. The Board recommends that licensees and their employers review the State’s current safety measures at https://covid19.ca.gov/safely-reopening and review the Industry Guidance to Reduce Risk for additional limitations and safety and sanitation protocols required. Due to variations in local county public health orders and changes to these orders over time, you should also check with your local county health department on a regular basis to determine what activities their public health orders allow. A list of links to each county public health department is available at https://covid19.ca.gov/state-local-resources/#top.

For additional guidance and resources related to COVID-19 and health care facilities, clinics, offices, and professionals, go to CDPHís Guidance Documents: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) page and the Center for Disease Controlís (CDCís) Information for Healthcare Professionals about Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

For additional resources and information from national professional organizations on audiological and hearing health care service delivery considerations and infection control in audiological practices, licensees can visit the American Academy of Audiology and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

CAN MY EMPLOYER REQUIRE ME TO GET A COVID-19 VACCCINE?

The Board does not have jurisdiction over this issue; however, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission an employer can require employees that enter the workplace, or specified health care facilities, to either show proof of vaccination or provide employees with reasonable accommodations to ensure public safety, such as require wearing a face covering, social distancing measures, or require COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated employees. Similarly, the California State Public Health Officer has the authority to issue public health orders, including those that require employees of health care facilities to be vaccinated or be subject to enhanced safety measures to ensure protection of vulnerable patients and the public.

On July 26, 2021, the State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health, issued State Public Health Officer Order of July 26, 2021 which requires workers in specified health care settings to either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once a week for COVID-19. Unvaccinated workers will be subject to at least weekly COVID-19 testing and will be required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The new order for health care workers will take effect on August 9, 2021 and specified health care facilities will have until August 23, 2021 to come into full compliance. This order applies to the following health care facilities:

  1. General Acute Care Hospitals
  2. Skilled Nursing Facilities (including Subacute Facilities)
  3. Intermediate Care Facilities
  4. Adult and Senior Care Facilities
  5. Homeless Shelters
  6. State and Local Correctional Facilities and Detention Centers
  7. Acute Psychiatric Hospitals
  8. Adult Day Health Care Centers
  9. Adult Day Programs Licensed by the California Department of Social Services
  10. Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and PACE Centers
  11. Ambulatory Surgery Centers
  12. Chemical Dependency Recovery Hospitals
  13. Clinics & Doctor Offices (including behavioral health, surgical)
  14. Congregate Living Health Facilities
  15. Dental Offices
  16. Dialysis Centers
  17. Hospice Facilities
  18. Pediatric Day Health and Respite Care Facilities
  19. Residential Substance Use Treatment and Mental Health Treatment Facilities

AM I REQUIRED TO REPORT TO GO TO WORK EVEN THOUGH I DONíT FEEL COMFORTABLE?

The Board does not have jurisdiction over this issue, you should follow public health advisories issued in your county and consult with your employer on this issue.

CAN LANGUAGE ASSESSMENTS BE DELAYED BECAUSE WE ARE NOT ABLE TO DO CLASSROOM OBSERVATIONS?

The Board does not have jurisdiction over this issue, you should follow public health advisories issued in your county and consult with your employer and your county office of education for guidance on this issue.

WILL IEP MEETINGS HAVE TO ABIDE BY THE TIMELINE REQUIRED?

The Board does not have jurisdiction over this issue, you should follow public health advisories issued in your county and consult with your employer and your county office of education for guidance on this issue.

IS IN-PERSON THERAPY REQUIRED?

The Board does not have jurisdiction over this issue, you should follow public health advisories issued in your county and consult with your employer on this issue.

HOW WILL COVID-19 AFFECT SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY RPE WEEKS?

Are you not working due to school or business closure? Only weeks/months in which you are working and receiving supervision can count toward the required 36 weeks of full-time or 72 weeks of part-time experience. If your RPE license will expire before you are able to complete the required 36 weeks of full-time or 72 weeks of part-time experience, you will need to submit an RPE extension request if your license will expire before you complete your weeks.

HOW WILL COVID-19 AFFECT AUDIOLOGY RPE WEEKS?

The Board was not given authority to waive the statutory requirement that Audiology RPEs complete 12 months of fulltime professional experience.

HOW CAN A RPE SUPERVISOR IDENTIFY INFORMATION REGARDING VARIATIONS FROM THE NORMALLY SCHEDULED RPE EXPERIENCE?

For RPEs working in K-12 schools, where school closures in the Spring of 2020 are not reflected in the approved school calendars, RPE Supervisors may indicate variances of the RPE work weeks from school calendar in the comments section of question 16 in the RPE Verification Form. For RPEs working in other settings, RPE supervisors can use the same comment box to identify any worksite closures that affected the RPE's ability to accrue experience, e.g. the RPE was not able to accrue experience through the provision of telehealth services.

Additionally, RPE Supervisors should indicate in the same comments section the last day of telesupervision direct monitoring and the date in-person direct monitoring began, so that RPEs will be credited the most hours allowed under the previously approved DCA Waiver and the Board's regulations.

WILL I BE ABLE TO GET AN EXTENSION OF THE RPE LICENSE CONSIDERING THE SITUATION?

If you meet the eligibility requirements for an RPE extension you can apply for that 60 days prior to your expiration date..

WILL I BE REQUIRED TO PAY FOR THE LICENSE EXTENSION FEE EVEN THOUGH MY SITUATION IS BEYOND MY CONTROL?

Yes.

CAN AN RPE PROVIDE TELETHERAPY?

Yes, RPEs that have been trained to use telehealth technology and receive the appropriate direct telesupervision can provide teletherapy. All tasks performed by an RPE still need to meet the same standard of care as in-person therapy.

The supervision requirements have returned to in-person "personal observation" for "direct monitoring" of RPEs. NOTE: On September 27, 2021, Governor Newsom issued a news release to announce the signing of an Executive Order to extend telehealth services expansion, as detailed below.

New Telehealth Information Pursuant to Executive Order N-16-21:
The Governorís new Executive Order, N-16-21, issued on September 27, 2021, does the following:

  1. Extends the previous Executive Orderís provisions relaxing certain state privacy and security laws for medical providers, which were set to expire on September 30, 2021, through the end of the state of emergency or until the original order is rescinded or modified.
  2. Rescinds the previous Executive Orderís provision that suspended the requirements specified in Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 2290.5(b). BPC ß2290.5(b) states the following: (b) Before the delivery of health care via telehealth, the health care provider initiating the use of telehealth shall inform the patient about the use of telehealth and obtain verbal or written consent from the patient for the use of telehealth as an acceptable mode of delivering health care services and public health. The consent shall be documented.

In short, Board licensees utilizing telehealth are again required to obtain consent prior to the delivery of health care via telehealth pursuant to BPC section 2290.5(b). DCA strongly urges review of the applicable statutes and regulations related to telehealth to ensure compliance with the law.

CAN AN RPE BE SUPERVISED THROUGH TELESUPERVISION?

No, DCA Waiver DCA-21-192 Order Extending DCA 20-11, Order Waiving In-Person Supervision Requirements for Speech-Language Pathology Assistants and Required Professional Experience Temporary Licensees, which waived in-person supervision requirements for Required Professional Experience (RPEs) and Speech-Language Pathology Assistants (SLPAs) through October 31, 2021 has expired. DCA-21-192 and its predecessors, waived the in-person "personal observation" for "direct monitoring" requirement for the supervision of RPEs under Title 16 California Code of Regulations (CCR) section 1399.153.3(d) and the "on-site observation" for "direct supervision" requirement for the supervision of SLPAs under 16 CCR section 1399.170. This waiver was in effect from May 6, 2020 through October 31, 2021

NOTE: For RPE supervision hours received after October 31, 2021, the Board cannot accept telesupervision as meeting the required eight (8) hours of supervision per month for the experience to count towards licensure. Arrangements for in-person supervision will need to be made regardless of whether telehealth/teletherapy is continued to be utilized to provide care to the patient to ensure that the RPE has eight (8) hours of in-person direct supervision per month.

HAS THE 8-HOUR RPE SUPERVISION REQUIREMENT BEEN MODIFIED IN LIGHT OF COVID-19?

No, as of October 31, 2021 all RPE supervision requirements have been fully reinstated.

CAN A SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY ASSISTANT (SLPA) PROVIDE TELETHERAPY?

SLPAs that have been trained to use telehealth technology and receive direct supervision via appropriate electronic means can provide teletherapy for tasks that require indirect or direct supervision. Tasks that require immediate supervision may not be provided via teletherapy. All tasks performed by a SLPA still need to meet the same standard of care as in-person therapy. All supervising Speech-Language Pathologists must be licensed in California. For additional information, please reference California Code of Regulations, Title 16, Division 13.4, sections 1399.170 and 1399.170.2.

The supervision requirements would return to in-person "on-site observation" for "direct supervision" of SLPAs. NOTE: On September 27, 2021, Governor Newsom issued a news release to announce the signing of an Executive Order to extend telehealth services expansion, as detailed below.

New Telehealth Information Pursuant to Executive Order N-16-21:
The Governor’s new Executive Order, N-16-21, issued on September 27, 2021, does the following:

  1. Extends the previous Executive Order’s provisions relaxing certain state privacy and security laws for medical providers, which were set to expire on September 30, 2021, through the end of the state of emergency or until the original order is rescinded or modified.
  2. Rescinds the previous Executive Order’s provision that suspended the requirements specified in Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 2290.5(b). BPC §2290.5(b) states the following: (b) Before the delivery of health care via telehealth, the health care provider initiating the use of telehealth shall inform the patient about the use of telehealth and obtain verbal or written consent from the patient for the use of telehealth as an acceptable mode of delivering health care services and public health. The consent shall be documented.

In short, Board licensees utilizing telehealth are again required to obtain consent prior to the delivery of health care via telehealth pursuant to BPC section 2290.5(b). DCA strongly urges review of the applicable statutes and regulations related to telehealth to ensure compliance with the law.

CAN A SLPA BE SUPERVISED THROUGH TELESUPERVISION?

No, arrangements for in-person supervision will need to be made regardless of whether telehealth/teletherapy is continued to be utilized to provide care to the patient. DCA Waiver DCA-21-192 Order Extending DCA 20-11, Order Waiving In-Person Supervision Requirements for Speech-Language Pathology Assistants and Required Professional Experience Temporary Licensees, which waived in-person supervision requirements for Required Professional Experience (RPEs) and Speech-Language Pathology Assistants (SLPAs) through October 31, 2021 has expired. DCA-21-192 and its predecessors, waived the in-person "personal observation" for "direct monitoring" requirement for the supervision of RPEs under Title 16 California Code of Regulations (CCR) section 1399.153.3(d) and the "on-site observation" for "direct supervision" requirement for the supervision of SLPAs under 16 CCR section 1399.170. This waiver was in effect from May 6, 2020 through October 31, 2021.

Updated November 1, 2021