School districts providing in-person instruction run the risk of being sued if they haven’t met their duty to follow a “standard of care” (“Schools May Get Sued Over Covid-19. Seven Things to Know About Managing That Risk,” Education Week, Sept. 9). The trouble is that standard may be different by the time the suit gets to a jury.
Plaintiffs, however, will have a tough time proving causation. That’s especially so with Covid-19 because so much is still not known about its transmission. Recommendations keep shifting, which means that what seems in line with guidelines today can be seen as negligence tomorrow. Liability waivers may not be enforceable because K-12 attendance is compulsory, while fields trips and sports are voluntary.
The best way for districts to avoid being sued is to be in regular contact with local health officials to be sure they are up to date on the latest recommendations. But even if they are, they can only hope their general liability insurance does not exclude claims from Covid-19.
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