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How to Address Expiring Background Checks During the COVID-19 Crisis

A question many schools are facing is how to advise their employees regarding their expiring Child Protective Services Law background clearances. While much of the background check process can be done online, the issue arises from the requirement of fingerprinting which cannot be done remotely. Recent legislation, regulations, and guidelines accommodate many COVID impacted processes relating to school districts and their employees, but peculiarly these checks are not one of them. The FBI has not changed their stance regarding the requirement, and while PDE has been pressured to issue new instructions on the matter, they have asserted the debatable position that the Secretary cannot waive or suspend the requirement for fingerprinting.

 

Because of this inflexibility and until further change, schools are forced to operate within the regular boundaries of the background check requirements. The options available at the moment are to either follow the normal procedures of completing the fingerprinting process while trying to follow all other applicable safety precautions associated with going out in public, or to allow the clearances to expire and require the employee to disengage from any and all activity that would otherwise trigger the requirement to have clearances. IdentiGo, aware of the conflict between the need and concern, has posted guidelines regarding the precautions they have employees take as well as precautions they instruct individuals to take when coming to complete the fingerprinting process. These guidelines include their employees continuously disinfecting “high-touch surfaces like door handles, keyboards, counters, and chairs,” sanitizing hands in between customers, as well as instructing customers to practice 6’ social distancing whenever possible (additional details can be found on their website: https://uenroll.identogo.com/).

 

So, until the legislature acts or the Secretary of Education issues a waiver from the fingerprinting requirements, fingerprints remain necessary in order to obtain completed background checks for those whose clearances are set to expire.

Brian J. Boland

Brian F. Boland

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