Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Universities Eyeing An In-Person Fall Ask Congress For Liability Shields

Chronicle of Higher Education, Higher-Ed Lobbying Group, Eyeing an In-Person Fall, Asks Congress for Liability Shields:

CoronavirusHigher-education leaders seeking to open their campuses for in-person operations this fall are asking Congress for protections that would insulate colleges from lawsuits brought by students, faculty, or staff who contract the new coronavirus.

The American Council on Education sent a letter on Thursday to Senate and House leaders seeking “temporary and targeted” liability-exposure protections for institutions that open their campuses this fall. The letter, co-signed by more than 70 other higher-education associations, also seeks protections for faculty and staff members and institutional systems, including affiliated nonprofit organizations and health-care providers.

In its letter, ACE said that such protections are necessary to “blunt the chilling effect” lawsuits would have on “otherwise reasonable decision-making leading to our nation’s campuses resuming operations in a safe and sensible manner.”

Colleges “are facing enormous uncertainty about Covid-19-related standards of care and corresponding fears of huge transactional costs associated with defending against Covid-19 spread lawsuits, even when they have done everything within their power to keep students, employees, and visitors safe,” the letter reads.

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No legal shields, none at all. That'll only encourage irresponsibility. Check out what Liberty University did to remain open. It didn't have a single on-campus infection at the height of this pandemic. All these other schools need do is show a similar level of good sense. And, yes I do realize that on many campuses that may be expecting a bit much of the administration.

Posted by: Mike Perry | Jun 4, 2020 6:06:41 AM

If the concern is to blunt liability in the face of them doing everything in their power to keep students, staff and faculty safe, wouldn't a negligence rule with a sharply defined duty of care be better? It would at least give those of us who are being dragged back into the classroom some comfort that if we are put at risk, they need to do the best they can to ensure our safety. A shield would not give that comfort, nor would it encourage efficient precautions up to the level of harm...

Posted by: Lori McMillan | Jun 3, 2020 12:59:03 PM