On June 29, 2020, during a general board meeting, the Board of Hearing Aid Specialists adopted rule language to extend the availability of continuing education courses in a distance learning platform through the 2019-2021 renewal period. This rulemaking was filed in consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the extension of the Public Health Emergency declaration in Florida.
The rule authorizes current licensees to complete Board approved continuing education courses for license renewal by alternative, distance learning methods. Initial applicants for licensure may also complete the required two-hour Florida Laws and Rules course by alternative distance learning methods when delivered by Board-approved instructors. The Board finds that these actions are a measured regulatory approach that helps to mitigate the threat of exposure to COVID-19 by licensed professionals who are required to complete initial licensure training and continuing education to maintain licensure.
During the meeting on June 29, 2020, the Board discussed the gap between the expiration of the emergency rule and the effective date of the approved rule. The Board determined that due to the ongoing concerns for public safety and the high-risk community served by hearing aid specialists, that no disciplinary actions would be pursued solely as a result of the expiration of the emergency rule until the new rule language becomes effective. The filed rule language includes the following provisions:
64B6-5.001 Continuing Education as a Condition for Renewal.
(1) As a condition of the biennial renewal of an active license, each hearing aid specialist shall attend and certify attending 20 credit hours (per biennium) of Board approved continuing education which are relevant to, and which enhance, the licensee’s ability to dispense hearing aids. Attendance at continuing education courses shall be in person. For the 2019-2021 biennial renewal period, all continuing education specified by Chapter 64B6-5, F.A.C, may be obtained by completion of courses offered in a distance learning format.