COVID-19 Updates and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

COVID-19 UPDATES

BUILDING REOPENED TO THE PUBLIC

Following the guidance of state officials, we reopened our offices to the public on February 1, 2021. Offices resumed normal hours of operation Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. In accordance with state public health orders, all visitors must wear a face covering and practice physical distancing 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 the most up-to-date public orders issued by the Governor, please visit the About COVID-19 restrictions page or the Governor’s Newsroom at https://www.gov.ca.gov/newsroom.

For the most up-to-date guidance on the COVID-19 virus 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 Vaccines Updates

As of April 1, 2021, all Californians over age 50 are eligible to get vaccinated and starting April 15, 2021 all Californians age 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19 vaccines and the state plans for distribution of the vaccines, visit the state’s COVID-19 Vaccines 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. Additionally, CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreen pharmacies now offer limited appointments for free COVID-19 vaccinations in select areas. 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.

The Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board (Board) is working closely with DCA to determine which licensing requirement waivers would allow individuals to continue assisting with the COVID-19 pandemic and allow licensees regulated by the Board to maintain and renew a license and remain employed. The Board will continue to work with DCA to identify needed waivers for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure licensees are able to provide necessary health care services to consumers.

Current waivers approved by the DCA director that impact current licensees include the below waivers. A full list of waivers will be placed on the DCA website at https://www.dca.ca.gov/licensees/dca_waivers.shtml as they are approved.

EXAMINATION AND CE WAIVER

Approved March 30, 2021, DCA Waiver DCA-21-134 Order Waiving License Renewal Requirements (Division 2) waives the CE requirements for renewal for Board licensees as described below.

  • What does it waive? CE requirements for renewing a license until six months from the date of the order (September 30, 2021). If this is amended in the future the Board will notify licensees at that time).
  • How long does the waiver last? Until September 30, 2021, after which the licensee must have satisfied the CE requirements for their specific license type.
  • Who does the waiver apply to? Active licenses that expire between March 31, 2020 and May 31, 2021 (if this is amended in the future the Board will notify licensees at that time).
  • What does not qualify for the waiver? This waiver does not apply to CE or examinations that are required as part of a disciplinary order.
  • Do licensees need to apply for the waiver? No, this waiver is being implemented for all licensees without any action required by the licensee to receive the waiver.

IN PERSON SUPERVISION WAIVER FOR RPE AND SLPA LICENSEES

Approved February 26, 2021, DCA Waiver DCA-21-124 Order Extending DCA 20-11, Order Waiving In-Person Supervision Requirements for Speech-Language Pathology Assistants and Required Professional Experience Temporary Licensees waives in-person supervision requirements for Required Professional Experience (RPEs) and Speech-Language Pathology Assistants (SLPAs) through April 30, 2021, as described below.

  • What does it waive? The requirements that supervision of RPEs (direct monitoring) and SLPAs (direct supervision) be done in-person, instead allowing this supervision to completed through telesupervision. Specifically, this waives 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.
  • What is not waived? The waiver does not waive the requirement that RPEs and SLPAs be supervised. Additionally, for SLPAs, it does not change any levels of supervision required for various services and the waiver does not apply to services that require immediate supervision of a SLPA.
  • How long does the waiver last? This waiver is in effect from May 6, 2020 through April 30, 2021, unless further extended by the DCA director.
  • Who does the waiver apply to? This waiver only applies to RPEs and SLPAs.
  • Do licensees need to apply for the waiver? No, this waiver is being implemented for all RPE and SLPA licensees without any action required by the licensee to receive the waiver.

REQUIRED PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE TEMPORARY LICENSE EXPIRATION WAIVER

Approved February 26, 2021, DCA Waiver DCA-21-119 Order Waiving Speech-Language Pathologist or Audiologist Required Professional Experience Temporary License Expiration waives 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 licensee’s inability to take and pass the licensing examinations, as described below.

  • What does it waive?For specified licensees, these waivers remove 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) and waives the associated fee. The waiver also removes 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). DCA Waivers DCA-20-36, DCA-20-61 and DCA-20-98 authorize 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.
  • What is not waived? The RPE Extension Application and $35 fee for reissuance of an RPE License are not waived for individuals applying to get their RPE reissued for the first time for reasons such as failure to take and pass the examination, physical or mental disability of the RPE or an immediate family member, or the RPE supervisor determined the RPE needed additional experience in one or more practice areas.
  • How long does the waiver last? This waiver only applies to eligible RPE licenses for the timeframes specified in the waiver, unless the waiver is further amended by the DCA director.
  • Who does the waiver apply to? The 6-month extension and fee waiver allowed by these waivers for an already reissued RPE License only applies to RPEs who have a reissued RPE License that would expire between March 31, 2020 and February 28, 2021. The allowance for RPE Licenses to be reissued due to the RPE License holder’s inability to take and pass the licensing examinations applies to all RPE License holders who have not already had their RPE License reissued before April 30, 2021.
  • Who does not qualify for the waiver? Reissued RPE Licenses that expire outside of the March 31, 2020 to April 30, 2021 date range do not qualify for the 6-month extension and application and fee waiver.
  • Do licensees need to apply for the waiver? For Reissued RPE Licenses that expire between March 31, 2020 and April 30, 2021, these licensees do not need to apply to extend their Reissued RPE License, as this part of the waiver is being implemented without any action required by the licensee. For initial RPE Licenses that have not been previously reissued, these licensees need to submit the RPE Extension Application and $35 fee to the Board.

WAIVING TEMPORARY AND TRAINEE HEARING AID DISPENSER LICENSE EXPIRATION

Approved February 26, 2021, DCA Waiver DCA-21-121 Order Extending DCA 20-16, 20-58, and 20-92, Order Waiving Temporary and Trainee Hearing Aid Dispenser License Expiration waives 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, as described below.

  • What does it waive? For specified licensees, these waivers remove the limitation that HAD Temporary Licenses cannot be renewed in Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 2538.27(b) and removes the limitation that HAD Trainee Licenses cannot be renewed more than twice in BPC section 2538.28(c). DCA Waivers DCA-20-16, DCA-20-58 and DCA-20-92 authorize the Board to extend the expiration date of HAD Temporary Licenses and HAD Trainee Licenses by six (6) months for eligible licensees.
  • How long does the waiver last? These waivers are in effect as of May 29, 2020 and apply only to eligible licenses unless the terms and timeframes of the waiver eligibility are further amended by the DCA director.
  • Who does the waiver apply to? These waivers only apply 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 April 30, 2021.
  • Who does not qualify for the waiver? HAD Trainees who have been licensed for less than 12 months and are eligible to renew via the normal renewal process. For those licenses that expire outside of the above date range, this waiver does not apply. For those HAD Temporary licensees that do not qualify for the waiver, their license cannot be renewed. For HAD Trainee licensees that do not qualify for the waiver, these licensees should renew their license via the normal renewal process.
  • Do licensees need to apply for the waiver? No. For eligible licensees, this waiver is being implemented without any action required by the licensee to have their expiration date extended.

REACTIVATION WAIVER

Approved December 15, 2020, the DCA Waiver DCA-20-91 Order Extending 20-02 and 20-57 Order Waiving License Reactivation or Restoration Requirements waiving requirements for inactive, retired, or canceled licensees waives the continuing education (CE) and fees associated with reactivation for Speech-Language Pathologists as described below.

  • What does it waive? CE requirements for reactivation of a license and any fees associated with reactivation of a license (including any renewal, delinquency, penalties, late fees, or any other statutory or regulatory fees).
  • What is not waived? The waiver does not waive the requirement for licensees to be fingerprinted, therefore licensees with a cancelled license will need to get live scanned before they can be reactivated. Licensees with a cancelled license should verify the live scan location they want to use is open by checking the Attorney General’s website at https://oag.ca.gov/fingerprints/locations.
  • How long does the waiver last? Through July 1, 2021, or when the State of Emergency ceases to exist, whichever is sooner. After that time, the temporary license will expire, and the license will be returned to its former status. If at that time you would like to continue practicing, you will need to reactivate using the regular reactivation process and form available at https://www.speechandhearing.ca.gov/forms_pubs/reactivate.pdf.
  • Who does the waiver apply to? At this time, the waiver only applies to Speech-Language Pathologists who have been in a Retired, Inactive, or Cancelled status for no longer than five (5) years. This means five years from your last expiration date. If the Board becomes aware of a need for Audiologists, Hearing Aid Dispensers, or Speech-Language Pathology Assistants in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, the Board will consider expanding this waiver in the future.
  • Who does not qualify for the waiver? Licensees whose license was surrendered or revoked, or where the licensee entered a retired, inactive, or cancelled status following initiation of a disciplinary proceeding do not qualify for this waiver.
  • Do licensees need to apply for the waiver? Yes, DCA has created a webform for all eligible licensees to submit a single webform to their respective board. Retired, Inactive or Cancelled Speech-Language Pathologists can apply for this waiver at https://covid-19.dca.ca.gov/backToActive.

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. The Board will continue to work with DCA to identify needed waivers like these for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure licensees are able to provide necessary health care services to consumers.

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 Blueprint for a Safer Economy to determine what businesses should be open in their specific county, the Blueprint for a Safer Economy: Activity and Business Tiers 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, if they have any additional limitations for specific and what phase of reopening of services is allowed. 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 CDPH’s Guidance Documents: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) page and the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) 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.

AM I REQUIRED TO REPORT TO GO TO WORK EVEN THOUGH I DON’T 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 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?

At this time, the Board has not been given authority to waive the statutory requirement that Audiology RPEs complete 12 months of fulltime professional experience. If this changes in the future, the Board will post information on our website regarding any statutory waivers made available to Audiology RPEs at that time.

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 in-person direct monitoring and the date telesupervision began, so that RPEs will be credited the most hours allowed under the current DCA-21-124 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. If you have already received an RPE extension and are not eligible, you may be eligible for an extension under DCA Waivers DCA-20-36, DCA-20-61, DCA-20-98 or DCA-21-119. At this time, the Board has not been given authority to waive statutory and regulatory requirements for Required Professional Experience outside of the DCA waivers described above.

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

At this time, the Board has not been given authority to waive the Required Professional Experience extension fee. If this changes in the future, the Board will post information on our website regarding any statutory or regulatory waivers made available to licensees/registrants at that time.

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 Governor issued Executive Order (N-43-20), that expands telehealth during the COVID-19 crisis (see items 9 and 10 of the order). Specifically, the order provides that where telehealth services are provided by a covered health care provider, those services have to be consistent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR) Notification, provided below. No other requirements were imposed, except that to the extent possible providers “shall” use the measures that the HHS OCR Notification encourages.

The HHS OCR Notification referenced in the Executive Order is the “Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency”.

CAN AN RPE BE SUPERVISED THROUGH TELESUPERVISION?

DCA Waiver DCA-21-124 Order Extending DCA 20-11, Order Waiving In-Person Supervision Requirements for Speech-Language Pathology Assistants and Required Professional Experience Temporary Licensees waives in-person supervision requirements for "direct monitoring" of RPEs from May 6, 2020 through April 30, 2020. For additional details regarding the waiver and its duration, please see the DCA Waiver DCA-21-124 information in the COVID-19 Speech and Hearing Related Waivers section above.

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

RPE will be required to comply with California Code of Regulations, Title 16, section 1399.153.3 and continue meeting the eight hour per month direct monitoring requirement, however, DCA Waiver DCA-21-124 waives the requirement that this monitoring occur in-person. To better understand “appropriate electronic means” in the waiver, licensees and supervisors should review and follow State and Federal guidance on the usage of acceptable technologies during the pandemic, as detailed below.

The Governor issued Executive Order (N-43-20), that expands telehealth during the COVID-19 crisis (see items 9 and 10 of the order). Specifically, the order provides that where telehealth services are provided by a covered health care provider, those services have to be consistent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR) Notification, provided below. No other requirements were imposed, except that to the extent possible providers “shall” use the measures that the HHS OCR Notification encourages.

The HHS OCR Notification referenced in the Executive Order is the “Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency”. Therefore, direct monitoring can be provided via the appropriate electronic means provided in the HHS OCR Notification.

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 Governor issued Executive Order (N-43-20), that expands telehealth during the COVID-19 crisis (see items 9 and 10 of the order). Specifically, the order provides that where telehealth services are provided by a covered health care provider, those services have to be consistent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR) Notification, provided below. No other requirements were imposed, except that to the extent possible providers “shall” use the measures that the HHS OCR Notification encourages.

The HHS OCR Notification referenced in the Executive Order is the “Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency”.

CAN A SLPA BE SUPERVISED THROUGH TELESUPERVISION?

DCA Waiver DCA-21-124 Order Extending DCA 20-11, Order Waiving In-Person Supervision Requirements for Speech-Language Pathology Assistants and Required Professional Experience Temporary Licensees waives in-person supervision requirements for "direct supervision" of SLPAs from April 30, 2020 through February 28, 2020. For additional details regarding the waiver and its duration, please see the DCA Waiver DCA-21-124 information in the COVID-19 Speech and Hearing Related Waivers section above. To better understand "appropriate electronic means" in the waiver, licensees and supervisors should review and follow State and Federal guidance on the usage of acceptable technologies during the pandemic, as detailed in the previous FAQ on SLPAs providing teletherapy.

Updated April 5, 2021