COVID-19 Death Liability Waiver Now Part Of School Enrollment Package
As schools across America consider their best options for reopening, some are implementing a new page in their annual packet. When parents fill out their regular stack of forms listing their kids’ addresses, allergies, and emergency contacts, some will also be signing an agreement not to hold the school responsible if their child contracts COVID-19 and dies or suffers long-term health problems.
[Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images]
RawStory reported on July 14 that attorney Natasha Scruggs had shared a document from the Hazelwood School District. While this waiver is reportedly required only for athletics, and the school district explained, “Like all districts, we have a sports waiver that we issue to parents who want their kids to play sports,” this one specifically refers to COVID-19.
See emphasis added in the text below:
The undersigned agrees to release, discharge, hold harmless and indemnify the Hazelwood School District, it’s agents, employees, officers, Board of Education members, insurers and others acting on the District’s behalf (the Releasees) of and from any and all claims, demands, causes of action and/or legal liabilities for injuries to or death of my child occurring during, or resulting from, or participation in the above-mentioned program or activity and related in any way to COVID-19, even if the cause, damages or injuries are alleged to be the fault of or alleged to be caused by the negligence of carelessness of the Releasees.
It’s not the only one. Below is one shared on Twitter that comes from a district in Tennessee.
The county in Tennessee where I grew up is making parents sign death waivers absolving the school district of liability if kids die of Covid after going back to school in the fall pic.twitter.com/9GQKxJiaZ9
— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) July 15, 2020
According to the Palm Beach Post, Volusia County school district in Florida actually sent out similar waivers to parents, then recalled them, saying they were unnecessary, after backlash. This one required signers to accept responsibility for all risks taken by students in school activities
By signing this agreement, I acknowledge that I alone have to determine the sufficiency of any safety protocols, rules or precautions that I decide to take to minimize the risks of participating in [extracurricular activities].
An attorney group that gives legal advice and representation to schools, Ed Counsel, released a notice earlier this month saying it’s not clear yet whether school districts can lawfully require such a waiver, and whether it would be enforceable.