As schools reopening this fall become a more likely possibility, more schools are preparing for the worst — coronavirus cases among students. Earlier this month, one school district faced backlash for issuing what many called the “COVID-19 death waiver.” Now, more schools are joining in on offering waivers to avoid future legal action should children be infected with the coronavirus.
Introducing Coronavirus Waivers
The Hazelwood School District in St. Louis, Missouri made headlines after their waiver was posted online. The waiver was targeted toward student-athletes in certain school programs.
By signing, a parent acknowledges that COVID-19 “currently exists as a public health crisis in our country.” Parents also agree not to let their kids participate should their child show symptoms. They must also pull their child from activities if they come into contact with someone showing symptoms.
If the student contracts COVID-19 while participating, the waiver states that the school district and its employees are exempt from liability.
One person described the waiver as “absolutely atrocious.” In their Facebook comment, they wrote, “How dare you even open and risk the lives of your community’s children!”
School District Defends the Waiver
Following the widespread backlash, the school district clarified that waivers for student-athletes aren’t new. With the pandemic in mind, the district included COVD-19 as an added liability.
“This year’s waiver includes language about COVID-19 to ensure that parents can make an informed decision,” the school district wrote on Facebook.
They also clarified that the waiver only applied to student-athletes. It wasn’t meant for students looking to attend in-person classes when they reopen. Parents, however, still questioned the district about what they plan to do if kids test positive after attending in-person classes.
Arizona Schools Now Offer Waivers
Similar to the Hazelwood School District, Arizona schools are bracing for in-person classes with waivers. According to Newsweek, the statewide insurance carrier for schools, Arizona School Risk Retention Trust, is providing a majority of the state’s school districts with waivers.
For parents with children in the Queen Creek Unified School District, the waiver was uploaded to their portal this week. “Although Queen Creek Unified School District is taking many steps to protect your child from the spread of COVID-19 as outlined on our website and communications provided to you, it is impossible to reduce the risk to zero,” said the document.
The districts offering waivers for in-person classes are still offering online classes, or a blend of in-person school and virtual school.
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COVID Waiver for Schools — Sources
Hazelwood School District: 2020-2021 Registration, Enrollment & Education Model Selection
HuffPost: Missouri School District Requires COVID-19 Waiver in Case Kids Get Sick, Die
Hazelwood School District” Waiver for Student-Athletes