BACB COVID-19 Updates


The BACB is operating remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We remain operational and continue to process applications and respond to emails. Please submit all application documents electronically to avoid delays as we are currently unable to pick up mail daily. We will review mailed applications when possible, and waive late fees on a case-by-case basis. If you must mail your application documents, use USPS (not FedEx or UPS). For all customer service inquiries, please contact us online. Thank you for your patience.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to raise a lot of fears—and questions—for many people around the world, and our RBTs are no exception. First, rest assured that you’re not alone during this challenging and unprecedented time. We’re doing our best to offer guidance that allows you to make sound decisions about your livelihood—and enables you to maintain your certification—while responding to your questions as quickly as we can. We encourage all RBTs to take a moment to review the following information.

RBTs Who Are Unable to Provide ABA Services
If you’ve been furloughed or lost your job because of the pandemic, you do not need to report this to the BACB. Also, you will not lose your certification just because you’re not working. One of the RBT maintenance requirements is to receive ongoing supervision for 5% of the hours that you provide behavior analysis services. However, if you’re not providing or billing for services, you don’t need supervision for the month and your certification will remain active—as long as you still have an RBT Supervisor or Requirements Coordinator on record with us.

RBTs Who Are Providing ABA Services
If you’re currently able to provide services, you must meet the RBT supervision requirements, but we may be more lenient about requirements that involve interacting with clients (e.g., the number of RBT-client observations). It’s very important to maintain detailed documentation in case you’re asked to complete a BACB requirements audit. That documentation should include information about how the pandemic has impacted your services, supervision, etc., and the steps you and your supervisor took to try to meet the requirements. While there’s no need to report these details to us right now, you should document them now and report them to us when you submit your annual RBT Renewal Application. For more guidance on meeting BACB requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, please read our March 17 post, “COVID-19 Update from the BACB,” on this page.

RBTs Who Don’t Anticipate Using Their Certification Soon
If you don’t expect to use your RBT certification any time soon, you can apply for voluntary inactive status. To help provide some financial relief for our certificants, we’re waiving all fees for those applying for voluntary inactive status through June 30, 2020. This option is only available if you haven’t yet reached your certification expiration date, which is listed in your BACB account. While on voluntary inactive status:

  • your certification is listed as “inactive” on the Certificant Registry
  • you may not practice, bill, or represent yourself as an RBT
  • you don’t need to submit renewal applications
  • you may remain inactive for up to two years
  • you must complete the RBT Request to Return from Voluntary Inactive Status form when you’re ready to reactivate your certification.

Please note, you may not reapply for voluntary inactive status until you have completed at least one renewal cycle after returning from voluntary inactive status. Voluntary inactive status is beneficial because it allows you to pause your certification. When you’re ready to reactivate it within the two years you’re allotted, you don’t have to meet all of the eligibility requirements again.

RBTs Who Are Due to Renew Their Certification Soon
If your RBT certification renewal is coming up—a process that includes completing the RBT Renewal Competency Assessment—and you are practicing, coordinate with your supervisor/assessor about meeting the renewal requirements.

If you’re not practicing and are unable to complete the RBT Renewal Competency Assessment, we have temporarily extended the reinstatement period (i.e., the grace period that kicks in immediately following your certification expiration date) from 30 days to 90 days for RBTs renewing in March 2020 and April 2020. If you plan to practice again soon, this extension gives you more time to complete your renewal requirements, including your RBT Renewal Competency Assessment. We’ll waive the late fee in these situations and your annual certification expiration date won’t change. We’ll also continue to evaluate this extension to determine whether we’ll apply it to individuals with renewal dates later than April 30, 2020. Please note, during your reinstatement period, you’re considered inactive and may not practice. If you don’t meet the renewal requirements at the end of the 90 days, your certification will be considered expired and you’ll need to reapply and meet the current requirements.

Have Questions About Providing Services?
If you have questions about how to provide services during this time (e.g., whether you can provide telehealth services), speak with your supervisor, employer, and/or professional associations. As a certification board, the BACB cannot provide specific direction or recommendations on these topics.

The BACB will temporarily offer live, online, proctored testing for its RBT candidates through Pearson VUE’s online delivery system, OnVUE. This option will be available for RBT candidates while Pearson VUE’s in-person testing facilities are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BACB is currently working with Pearson VUE to implement this delivery model and will announce the date it is available in the near future.
 
The BACB’s decision to offer remote proctored testing for RBT candidates follows the National Commission for Certifying Agencies’ (NCCA) announcement on March 20, 2020 that it will allow the use of remote-proctor testing delivery on a limited basis for organizations with accredited programs such as the BACB. The NCCA’s announcement is in response to an urgent need for credentialing programs to make testing available following the closure of many testing centers worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The NCCA recently approved the BACB’s application to offer remote testing for its RBT certification—each certification requires a separate application—on a trial basis. The BACB’s decision to pursue remote testing for the RBT certification while Pearson VUE’s in-person testing centers are closed is because the maximum length of the RBT certification examination—90 minutes—allows the BACB and Pearson VUE to help ensure a fair testing experience for all candidates. Unfortunately, the BACB cannot guarantee such an experience for candidates taking the BCBA and BCaBA examinations, which, at four hours in length, require heightened security and accessibility at a time when wireless Internet traffic has reached unprecedented levels.
 
With advanced features that include ID verification, session monitoring, browser lockdown, and recordings, the OnVUE platform includes security features that are necessary for a trial of remote testing for RBT candidates during this challenging and unusual time. Once an RBT candidate’s application for certification is approved, they will receive a link to schedule their remote, proctored certification examination with Pearson VUE per the usual examination scheduling process. As part of this pilot program, BACB psychometricians will closely monitor all data associated with remote testing, which will then be used by the NCCA to determine  whether to allow the BACB to continue to offer remote delivery of RBT certification examinations in the future.
 
PLEASE NOTE: RBT candidates who request accommodations for the RBT certification examination will need to wait until Pearson VUE reopens its physical testing centers; the OnVUE platform is unable to provide candidates with testing accommodations other than adjustable font and color contrast. Additionally, Pearson VUE strongly recommends using a high-speed internet connection for online testing, and encourages candidates to test during less popular wireless access times. Bandwidth issues greatly affect the delivery of online testing, and such issues are beyond Pearson VUE’s—and the BACB’s—control.

For further information, listen to our podcast.

To help provide some financial relief for our certificants during this unprecedented time, we will waive all fees for those applying for voluntary inactive status through June 30, 2020. Certificants must submit the Voluntary Inactive Status Application that pertains to their certification level; please note: Each BACB certification has different requirements for requesting voluntary inactive status. Please make sure you meet the relevant requirements for your certification level:

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent statewide shelter-in-place mandate, we continue to operate remotely. We are processing applications submitted electronically and responding to emails. If you wish to request voluntary inactive status, please submit the application that pertains to your certification electronically to avoid delays as we are unable to pick up mail daily. If you must mail your application, use USPS (not FedEx or UPS). For all customer service inquiries, please contact us online.

March 20, 2020 Update: We have updated the following information to provide a revised description of individuals who may be at increased risk of becoming very ill during the pandemic. The revised statement also clarifies the guidance provided to support certificants in making decisions around service provision. It is important to remember that the BACB cannot issue a blanket directive to continue or discontinue services due to the complexity of each individual situation and client.


March 19, 2020 (Modified March 20, 2020)

Because the COVID-19 pandemic is particularly impactful on vulnerable populations and their service providers, we offer the following information to our certificants as they make critical decisions about service delivery during this difficult time. Please keep in mind that this information does not constitute legal or medical advice.

First, we extend our gratitude to the many BACB certificants who had contingency plans in place to address service interruptions. We also want to serve as a resource for the many certificants who have contacted us for ethics guidance as they seek to develop and modify contingency plans consistent with the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (Code) during the pandemic. The Code is primarily focused on ensuring that high-quality services are delivered in a safe manner. Throughout the Code, it is clear that the primary directive is to do no harm to clients. Section 2.0, Behavior Analysts’ Responsibility to Clients, states “Behavior analysts have a responsibility to operate in the best interest of clients.” Section 2.04(d) states: “Behavior analysts put the client’s care above all others…”

Section 1.04(d) of the Code makes it clear that certificants must comply with legal requirements, including those related to social distancing and service provision. Recent directives regarding social distancing may create scenarios that are not easily addressed under 4.07(b) of the Code. Essentially, the social distancing requirements could be deemed “environmental conditions [that] hinder implementation of the behavior-change program.” Accordingly, certificants must “seek to eliminate the environmental constraints, or identify in writing the obstacles to doing so.” 4.07(b). This means that if there are barriers to service provision in a particular region or context (e.g., a mandate to engage social distancing, high-risk clients) that cannot be removed or adequately addressed, certificants must document in writing the barriers and steps taken for each client.

As BACB certificants endeavor to uphold the Code and protect clients, we provide the following considerations:

Health and Safety

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently list the following as groups who may be at increased risk for getting “very sick” during the pandemic: older adults; people of any age who have asthma, COVID-19, or serious underlying medical conditions (blood disorders; chronic kidney and liver diseases; compromised immune systems; current or recent pregnancies; diabetes heart disease; lung disease; metabolic disorders; and neurological, neurologic, and neurodevelopmental conditions). For more information on these categories, please see the following resources: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html and Appendix A in https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/community-mitigation-strategy.pdf. Each certificant is responsible for verifying whether a client falls into one or more of these groups to assist in fully determining the risks associated with continuing to provide services in their current form.
  • The World Health Organization and the CDC recommend social distancing to slow the spread of the infection, minimize the risk of infection to those considered high-risk, and reduce the strain on health services and resources. In the United States, the federal and state governments have directed the public to engage in social distancing, schools have closed or moved to online instruction, and many other public services have been limited or temporarily stopped. Similar practices have been enacted in many other countries.
  • The CDC indicates that individuals who are asymptomatic or have yet to display symptoms may expose others to the virus, and because testing is limited, most individuals are unable to verify that they are not infected. This means that service providers or clients who do not appear ill could be spreading the virus.
  • To minimize risk, service providers should consider developing a COVID-19 pandemic risk mitigation plan and implementation policies. The risk mitigation plan may include some of the following elements: regular communication with staff and clients about how to stay safe, telecommuting/telehealth, limits on air travel, attestations about symptoms and exposure, encouraging social distancing, considerations for determining whether to continue/augment/suspend client services, and cancelling services/sessions if clients or service providers are symptomatic or if deemed necessary to comply with social distancing recommendations.

Continuity of Care and Appropriate Transition of Services

  • Section 2.15, Interrupting or Discontinuing Services, indicates that certificants must work in the best interest of clients to avoid interrupting or disrupting services. This code element must be balanced with the overall requirement to not harm clients. Therefore, certificants providing services to vulnerable individuals must first comply with all government mandates (1.04(d) of the Code). Assuming there are no mandates to the contrary, the service provider must determine if the risk of suspending services (e.g., substantial risk of injury to the client) is greater than the risk of continuing to provide services.
  • If continuing services is deemed appropriate, the certificant must then determine if services can be delivered in a manner that does not unduly increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19 (e.g., enhanced disinfecting protocols, minimizing numbers and points of contact, using protective gear).
  • In the event that services should be suspended in their current form, the next step is to determine if services can be augmented (e.g., provide telehealth services, develop maintenance and generalization programming, create home-based program materials, move to parent consultation via telehealth) to minimize disruptions (i.e., minimize loss of critical skills).
  • If it is determined that services must be stopped, as opposed to augmented, providers should engage in appropriate steps to ensure continuity of care and appropriate transition (e.g., update reports and data, make relevant documents and materials available to caregivers, provide caregivers with a list of other relevant providers).
  • In summary, certificants must systematically and carefully consider the risks of stopping, continuing as-is, or augmenting services, and then take steps to carry out the decision in a way that minimizes risks to clients, caregivers, and staff and maximizes therapeutic benefits to clients.

As certificants make these difficult decisions, we urge you to follow all laws and public health recommendations from your local health authority and respective governmental agencies. We have compiled a list of resources relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic below. Note that including a resource is not an endorsement of the agency or organization, or the guidance provided by said agency or organization.

The BACB will continue to monitor the evolution and impact of COVID-19 and work to continue supporting the profession during this difficult time. If you have questions, please visit the Contact Us page.

Resources

March 18, 2020

On March 16, 2020, Pearson VUE made the difficult decision to close all Pearson VUE-owned testing centers in the U.S. and Canada for a minimum of 30 days in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many other countries have closed their testing centers as well. For the latest information regarding Pearson VUE testing centers, please visit the Pearson VUE website.

Pearson VUE’s decision was primarily based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which now recommends that no more than 10 people congregate in the same physical space in an effort to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand the closure of Pearson VUE testing centers presents a hardship for our certificants and consumers of ABA services. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide guidance to all those unable to test in the weeks ahead.

Individuals who hold a current examination authorization: We will extend the expiration date of your examination authorization by the number of days Pearson VUE testing centers are closed and you are unable to test. If you receive an automated email from the BACB that includes the date of your authorization expiration (e.g., reminders, expiration notices), please be aware that date will be adjusted once we know when Pearson VUE testing centers will reopen. Should your examination authorization expire during this period, we will reinstate it based on the number of days testing centers are closed and you are unable to test. This applies to all BACB testing candidates regardless of location.

Individuals who have submitted or will soon submit a BACB certification application: We will continue to process applications. If your application is approved, please disregard the examination authorization expiration date you receive in your approval email from the BACB. We will adjust the date your examination authorization expires once we have more information regarding the availability of testing.

We continue to receive inquiries about potential modifications to our standard testing practices, including whether candidates may test at other venues or in a remote environment. Because the BACB contracts solely with Pearson VUE, testing at other venues is not permitted. It is also likely impossible given that many other testing vendors are closing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, due to our stringent examination security requirements and standards, we are unable to offer remote examination delivery at this time.

Again, we will continue to monitor this situation closely. While we have implemented remote operations to ensure the health and safety of all BACB employees, we remain operational and continue to process applications and respond to emails. To reach a customer service representative, please use our online Contact Us form.