TDLR TAKES ACTION IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 THREAT

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TDLR Updates

April 3, 2020

Provisions for Temporary Emergency Distance Education for Driver Education and Driving Safety Schools

The health and safety of all our licensees is of the utmost importance. To proactively address the concerns regarding COVID-19, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) has enacted temporary emergency distance education provisions to allow current licensed Driver Education and Driving Safety schools to offer distance education.

Effective immediately, Driver Education and Driving Safety Schools may teach all Driver Education or Driving Safety classroom instruction courses in a distance learning setting. This provision only applies to courses that would normally be provided in a classroom setting; this does not include AMI or ADM. The purpose of the temporary emergency distance education provision is to provide flexibility for schools to help students complete their course work.

This temporary emergency distance education provision does not apply to the in-car lesson requirements in Driver Education. TDLR’s goal is to enable schools to continue to teach their students despite the current circumstances related to COVID-19.

Licensed Schools that may be impacted by COVID-19 can notify TDLR by email at DES@tdlr.texas.gov with the subject line of the email as “COVID-19 Temporary Emergency Distance Education Request” and provide the following information:

  • School name and license number;
  • Course Provider Name and license number;
  • Type of delivery method, including the technology or program being used for distance education; and
  • Type of method which will be used for tracking student attendance, including hours completed.

Temporary emergency distance education accommodations will remain in place until further notice.

March 31, 2020

Governor Orders Non-Essential Businesses to Close

On March 31, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Executive Order GA-14, ordering that people and businesses should follow CDC and Presidential guidelines by practicing good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation, implementing social distancing, and working from home if possible.

Effective April 2, 2020, only essential services are allowed. Only people providing essential services are permitted to be out in public providing services. This new order prohibits services from being provided by persons licensed under Chapter 401, Sections 501-522, Health and Safety Code (Laser Hair Removal) and Chapters 455 (Massage Therapists), 1601 (Barbers), 1602 (Cosmetologists), and 1603 (Barbering and Cosmetology), Occupations Code.

Additional facilities are closed. Governor Abbott had previously closed massage establishments on March 20. Under the new order, barber and cosmetology shops regulated under Chs. 1601, 1602, and 1603, Occupations Code, and laser hair removal facilities regulated under Chapter 401, Sections 501-522, Health and Safety Code must close by 12:01 a.m. April 2, 2020. The order is in effect until April 30, 2020 and supersedes any city or county orders.

Essential Services Designations

Not sure what is deemed an essential service? Here's a list: http://tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices/.

March 31, 2020

TDLR announces provisions to allow Cosmetology, Barbering and Massage Therapy schools to offer practical instructions remotely.

The health and safety of all our licensees is of the utmost importance. To proactively address the concerns regarding COVID-19, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) will allow Cosmetology, Barbering and Massage schools to utilize technologies such as videos of hands-on work, electronic learning, virtual learning, and other practices that would effectively deliver the practical portion of the school’s curriculum to ensure that a student develops the job skills and knowledge to obtain a license in Texas.

Remote practical instruction does not include internship or apprenticeship instructional hours. TDLR’s goal is to enable schools to continue to teach their students despite the current circumstances related to COVID-19. These provisions will remain in place until further notice.

Find more specific information for each program here:

Barbering

Cosmetology

Massage Therapy

March 26, 2020

COVID-19: Elevator, Boiler Inspection Requirements Temporarily Suspended

To help combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, TDLR requested and received authority from Governor Greg Abbott to suspend certain regulatory requirements statewide, to the extent necessary to extend inspection time requirements for elevators and boilers:

  • Inspection requirements are suspended temporarily for elevators with permits that expire in March, April and May 2020. TDLR investigators will respond in case of an accident or emergency. (§754.019, Health and Safety Code)
  • A boiler Certificate of Operation that expires in the time period from March 13, 2020 through May 31, 2020, shall NOT receive any penalty for failing to obtain an inspection before the Certificate of Operation expires. TDLR investigators will respond in case of an accident or emergency.
  • All boiler owners who request an extension of the internal inspection interval will maintain eligibility for an extension even if the required inspections have not been performed. This policy will be applied to all boiler extensions for which the Certificate of Operation expires during the time period of March 13, 2020 through May 31, 2020. (§755.025 and §755.026, Health and Safety Code)
  • Extending by 60 days all building inspection deadlines in the Elimination of Architectural Barriers Program for any inspections due in March, April, and May in case any of those buildings need to be used immediately as part of COVID-19 response. (§469.105, Government Code)

Private Property Towing for Expired Registration

Question: Can I perform a private property tow for a vehicle with an expired registration?

Answer: No. On March 13, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation, declaring a state of disaster for all counties in Texas due to the threat of COVID-19. Governor Abbott also issued a statement on March 16, 2020, granting a temporary extension to obtain an initial registration and renewal of registration for a vehicle. Tex. Occ. Code § 2308.253 (d) and (e) prohibit the towing of vehicles from private property on the basis of an expired license plate or registration unless certain requirements are met. Due to the extension granted for obtaining the initial registration or renewal of registration for a vehicle, tow companies may not tow vehicles from private property for expired registration or renewals until further notice.

March 25, 2020

How TDLR Licensees Can Help Medical Professionals

If you have any unused personal protective gear (N95 masks, gloves, shoe covers, infection control items) that you can donate to help Texas medical providers who are fighting the #COVID19 pandemic, visit https://www.texas.gov/ for info on how to donate.

Federal Resource Available to Identify Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) is closely monitoring city and county orders that impact TDLR-regulated industries and professions.

Under their authority in Chapter 418, Government Code, Texas cities and counties have issued various orders to address concerns relating to the pandemic. TDLR licensees must comply with these orders, which may specify:

  • which occupations are essential; and
  • which occupations, activities, and work are nonessential.

While TDLR is not authorized to make the determination as to what each jurisdiction deems essential, we have identified a resource that may assist licensees.

On March 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During Covid-19 Response. Read the CISA memorandum (PDF) here.

CISA’s memorandum contains an initial list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” to help state and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.

March 23

Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

Speech-Language Pathology assistants may receive 100 percent of their monthly supervision through telehealth.  Supervisors must provide a minimum of four hours of direct supervision each month and four hours of indirect supervision each month.  Supervisors may use telehealth for all supervision of SLP assistants (16 TAC §111.51(g)(1) and (4) and §111.213(b)(1) and (2)).

TDLR Waives Continuing Education, Other Requirements

TDLR continuing education requirements are waived for all individual licenses expiring in March, April, and May 2020. Licensees still need to submit their renewal applications, pay the required fees, and TDLR will check their criminal histories, but they will not need to complete any TDLR-required continuing education this licensing cycle. (§51.405, Occupations Code)

Note: TDLR is not authorized to waive continuing education requirements imposed by a certifying or credentialing entity other than TDLR. If a certifying entity requires continuing education to maintain certification, and certification is required for Texas licensure, then that continuing education must be completed. If the certifying entity waives continuing education or allows it to be completed on a delayed basis due to COVID-19, then you may follow the certifying entity’s policy.

APMLE Update - Podiatry

Prometric, the provider of the APMLE for the podiatric medicine program has closed testing centers in the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit the Prometric webpage.

March 22

Hair Salons, Nail Salons, Spas, Massage Establishments and Barbershops Ordered Closed in Dallas, Tarrant, Fort Bend and Jefferson Counties and City of New Braunfels

County Judges in Dallas, Tarrant, Jefferson and Fort Bend counties have ordered hair salons, nail salons, spas and barbershops closed to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The City of New Braunfels has ordered closed nail salons, hair salons, barber shops, beauty salons, hair removal services and spas.

The Dallas County order by Judge Clay Jenkins runs from March 21 through April 2. The order can be found here: https://www.dallascounty.org/government/comcrt/jenkins/covid-19.php.

The Tarrant County order by Judge Glen Whitley runs from March 21 through at least March 28. The order can be found here: http://www.tarrantcounty.com/content/dam/main/global/Covid-19/Declaration_of_Local_Disaster_2nd_Amendment.pdf

The Fort Bend County order by County Judge KP George runs from March 21 through April 3. The order can be found here: https://www.fortbendcountytx.gov/home/showdocument?id=53555.

The Jefferson County order by County Judge Jeff Branick runs through March 20 through April 3. The order can be found here: https://co.jefferson.tx.us/Documents/Coronavirus%20Docs/SIXTH%20AMENDED%20EMERGENCY%20ORDER.pdf

The New Braunfels order runs from March 22 until the local State of Emergency is terminated. The order can be found here: https://www.nbtexas.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2556

TDLR licensees can sign up for official TDLR email alerts here: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/TXDLR/subscriber/new. These email updates are the best way to ensure they receive the most accurate and up-to-date information about TDLR.

March 20

Podiatry COVID-19 Information Resource Page

The Federation of Podiatric Medical Boards (FPMB) has created a Resource Page for Podiatry that is updated routinely with nationwide questions/issues.

The Texas Podiatric Medical Association (TPMA) has created a Texas Podiatry/COVID-19 Resource Page that is updated routinely with statewide questions/issues.

Texas Massage Establishments Closed From March 20 to April 3

AUSTIN – As of midnight on March 20, all Texas massage establishments are closed until April 3 by executive order of Gov. Greg Abbott. The closure is intended to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

TDLR reminds other practitioners that they must continue to observe sanitary requirements. Anyone seeking guidance about whether to continue providing services should contact their local health departments or county judges, who are authorized to make that decision.

March 19, 2020

PSI Examination Rescheduling

TDLR's provider of licensing examinations, PSI has temporarily closed its test centers due to the outbreak of COVID-19. See the closure notice on the PSI website.

Effective immediately, candidates can reschedule up to and including the day of testing at no penalty and no documentation required. NOTE: In most cases, candidates can reschedule their examinations on-line and they are encouraged to do so. If a candidate chooses to reschedule through our candidate support call center, they may experience longer than usual wait times under the current circumstances.

  • All reschedule rules and no show policies are relaxed through April 30th.
  • If you are unable to make your exam and you are reported as a no-show you will be allowed to reschedule at no cost.
  • In the event that there are restrictions based on eligibility periods or test windows we will work on options with your examination sponsor.
  • Candidates are encouraged to reschedule on-line. If a candidate chooses to reschedule through PSI’s Candidate Call Center, they can expect to have longer than usual wait times. Call Centers are open: 5:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m. PDT M-F, 7:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. PDT Sat-Sun

MBLEX Update

Pearson VUE, the provider of the MBLEx for the massage therapy program has closed testing centers in the United States and Canada. To learn more, view the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards Statement (PDF) or visit the Pearson Vue webpage.

March 18, 2020

Testing Sites for Licensing Candidates To Close

Beginning Friday, March 20, 2020, all PSI Examination sites will be closed until April 13. PSI will re-evaluate at that time and decide how they will proceed after April 13. PSI will shut down the scheduling tool via phone and online. PSI will also cancel all scheduled candidates. Candidates will not lose any money, and they will be able to test at a later date.

Licensing candidates whose tests were canceled and who have questions can contact TDLR at education@tdlr.texas.gov.

Helpful Hints for Working in Private Residences

Our friends at the Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TACCA) of Greater Houston shared some helpful hints for companies such as air conditioning contractors and electricians who enter private residences:

  • Require schedulers/dispatchers to ask clients if anyone in the home is in quarantine or isolation. Be sure this info is provided to the technician.
  • Provide gloves, masks and disposable coveralls available to techs so they can take proper steps to protect themselves if someone is ill, is in quarantine or in isolation.
  • Keep records of where technicians go and when they went, in case one of your employees contracts the virus. Health authorities will probably ask for a timeline of activities.
  • Remind employees to wash their hands often, especially after house calls or performing maintenance.
  • Tell employees who are sick to stay home.
  • Be mindful of people who seem to be at higher risk, including older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes.
  • Keep up with the most current recommendation from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

March 17, 2020

TDLR moving employees to remote work

AUSTIN – Starting Tuesday and continuing until April 15:

  • Most TDLR employees will work remotely.
  • Other TDLR employees whose duties currently cannot be done remotely will report in staggered, smaller groups to work at the agency’s offices.
  • The customer service lobby at 920 Colorado St. will not be accepting visitors at this time and will be closed to the public.

TDLR strongly urges employers of licensees who work in close quarters providing services to customers and clients – such as barbers, cosmetologists, massage therapists, driver education teachers, podiatrists, athletic trainers, audiologists and speech-language pathologists – to check the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas Department of State Health Services and local health authority websites to determine whether it is appropriate to provide services. Whether to remain open and continue to provide services is a business decision.

People who are applying for TDLR licenses and need to take a test through the TDLR third-party testing vendor, PSI Services, will not be able to get practical (hands-on) tests in Amarillo and McAllen. Other testing sites will have a reduced number of testing seats available Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. If a testing candidate arrives at a testing center and is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, they will be denied admission to the test center and can reschedule at no additional cost through April 30. PSI contact centers are currently experiencing longer than usual wait times. For more information please contact PSI.

Late last week, TDLR:

  • canceled all professional and amateur combative sports events licensed by TDLR and scheduled between now and April 30, including Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Muay Thai bouts;
  • enacted provisions to authorize licensed Barber, Cosmetology, Driver Education and Massage Therapy schools to conduct temporary emergency distance education;
  • canceled a number of advisory board meetings that had been scheduled for March and April; and
  • canceled several in-person strategic planning sessions scheduled for late March. Present plans include a statewide livestream with no audience in mid-April.
  • Canceled most advisory board meetings, including:
    • Architectural Barriers Advisory Committee scheduled for Monday, March 30;
    • Code Enforcement Officers Advisory Committee scheduled for Thursday, April 9;
    • Licensed Breeders Advisory Committee scheduled for Monday, April 13;
    • Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Advisory Board scheduled for Tuesday, April 14;
    • Massage Therapy Advisory Board scheduled for Monday, April 20;
    • Hearing Instrument Fitters and Dispensers Advisory Board scheduled for Monday, April 27;
    • Midwives Advisory Board scheduled for Wednesday, April 29;
    • Dietitians Advisory Board scheduled for Thursday, April 30.
  • TDLR is exploring the possibility of holding some meetings via teleconference. Details will be announced at a later date.
  • Canceling in-person Strategic Planning town hall meetings that had been scheduled in five Texas cities. TDLR is exploring ways to conduct those sessions online.
  • Canceling all TDLR employee travel to conferences.

TDLR may take additional measures to protect its staff, licensees, and consumers as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. TDLR will continue to update this page with information related to the COVID-19 outbreak.