September 12, 2020

School districts worry that legislators failed to protect them from Covid-19 lawsuits

The Legislature adjourned without having resolved what school districts say is a huge barrier to returning to in-school instruction: legal protection from Covid-19-related lawsuits.

Without that safeguard, school officials warn, some districts will be skittish about opening up schools and instead continue in distance learning until they get it.

“Absolutely, without question, districts around the state will be hesitant if there aren’t liability protections for when they follow health and safety guidelines and act in good faith,” said Wes Smith, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators.

School districts were counting on passage of legislation that would shield them from being sued over an alleged transmission of Covid-19 at school as long as schools made reasonable efforts to follow local, state and federal coronavirus health and safety regulations and guidance. It would have placed the burden of proof that the transmission happened at school on the plaintiff, not the district.

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