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    A "very gray area is the best I can explain it," said Sara Nollman, managing director of the South Central Illinois Mass Transit District, regarding COVID-related mandates coming from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
    SCT's board of directors voted at their Nov. 18 meeting in Centralia to accept the OSHA mandates regarding face coverings, vaccinations and COVID testing.
    Franklin County Director Pam Boyd made a motion that directors accept the OSHA template completed for the testing issue.
    Clinton County Director Pat Netemeyer wanted to amend the motion to read only as required by OSHA; he said he also agreed with Boyd's motion.
    But for now, the OSHA activities — directed toward employers with more than 100 employees — have been put on hold.
    Marion County Director Ben Stratemeyer said he has a hard time approving something he has not read.

    He would be OK if copies of the mandate could be made and given to directors.
    "I want to read it before I'm going to vote for anything," he said. Stratemeyer would be the lone vote against.
    Following a Nov. 12 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, OSHA said last week it had suspended all activities related to the implementation and enforcement of a mandate calling for such employers to require vaccination or COVID-19 testing pending future developments in the litigation.
    The ruling by the court ordered that OSHA can take no steps to implement or enforce what is known as an emergency temporary standard “until further court order.”
    OSHA’s emergency temporary standard said covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.
    Employers had 30 days to implement a vaccination and/or 60 days to implement a mask and test plan from Nov. 5.
    Challenges to President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers will now be consolidated in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, a panel dominated by judges appointed by Republicans, The Associated Press reported Nov. 16.
    In all, 34 objections have been filed in all 11 federal regional circuits plus the one for the District of Columbia.
    OSHA is asking the district to implement this policy by Dec. 5, which is what Nollman and SCT Human Resources Director Megan Vandeveer have been working on.
    OSHA made available a template on their website, and SCT has been working with that to assemble their information, to be in compliance with the directive.
    "We basically have to fill in our information, and add some things of what we are doing," Nollman said.
    Nollman was seeking board approval of the plan, per OSHA, so that SCT would be in compliance.
    She said they would make it effective Dec. 5 "unless something happens and everything gets pushed" out.
    Nollman said SCT is also going to start the process of vaccine verification, as the district also needs to be in compliance with that program by Dec. 5.
    "Could that all stop and the dates change this afternoon? Yes. But as of right now we're just trying to ... comply with the OSHA website, and what we need to do as far as being an employer of over 100 people," Nollman said.
    The OSHA mandate deals with face coverings [which SCT complies with now], vaccinations and COVID testing.
    Nollman said once she and Vandeveer finish with the template, they will send it out to all the directors and officers.
    So even though the information just came out, the district is pushing forth with compiling the information so as to be in compliance by Dec. 5.
    While OSHA is backing off of the vaccination and testing, Nollman said the agency has not said employers, such as South Central Transit, do not have to skip complying with the mandate.
    Clinton County Director Pat Netemeyer mentioned the court-ordered stoppage against OSHA.
    Nollman said, even so, they are still going to continue with the template and related paperwork so they are not caught off-guard if the mandates were to go forward.
    "We're just trying to stay on top of things as best we can," Nollman said.
    Jefferson County Director Don Copeland asked if OSHA backed the requirements off until February 2022.
    Nollman said South Central Transit has not been officially notified that they don't have to continue with preparing the information requested.