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Updated Guidance on Essential Workplaces and Status of Direct Support Professionals

Posted on March 20, 2020

From OPWDD:

March 20, 2020
The Governor’s most recent Executive Order, EO 202.7, as well as the associated Guidance issued by the Empire State Development Corporation, sets forth in-person work restrictions,
effective as of March 21, 2020 at 8 pm, and until further notice.

These restrictions require all businesses and nonprofit entities to utilize telecommuting and work from home procedures to the extent possible.

Please remember that essential businesses, which include home health care workers/aides, direct support professionals (DSPs), elder care, nursing homes, residential health care/congregate care facilities, walk-in health facilities, hospitals, research/laboratories, and those providing medical equipment and supplies, are considered exempt from the restrictions mentioned above.

This notice is to confirm that your agencies, which provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities and are operated, certified, authorized or funded by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), qualify for this exemption and should remain in operation to the extent necessary to provide those services. This includes your administrative offices and those employees necessary to support the essential functions of your agency’s mission.

Please remember to continue to maintain good hygiene and precautionary measures, as COVID-19 can be spread from infected individuals to others through close personal contact.

Providers must encourage good hygiene and social distancing within the workplace and must keep staff home if they are sick.

Providers should regularly check the NYS Department of Health and OPWDD websites for the latest guidance on COVID-19 as the outbreak evolves.

March 17, 2020 – On the Status of Direct Support Professionals

Direct Support Professionals are essential and integral employees to OPWDD’s provision of services, and that is especially true during this public health emergency. OPWDD has remained in close consultation with our partners at the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department, as well as with those at the federal and local level, to ensure the health and safety of all staff.

In guidance issued by the NYS Education Department, found at:  Additional Guidance on Statewide School Closures Due to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak in New York State  – March 17, 2020, DSP’s are classified as essential health care workers:

“Essential health care workers may include licensed health professionals such as physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, LPNs and nurse assistants or laboratory personnel and direct support professionals. First responders may include paramedics, emergency medical technicians, police officers, and firefighters.”

As you know this is a rapidly evolving situation. Please check the New York State Department of Health (DOH) Novel Coronavirus webpage for frequent updates.