Wednesday afternoon, 14 presidents of colleges across the country gathered in front of their computers. On their screens they saw their comrades, along with Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos US, who asked what they need to re-open its campus in the fall.

The president spoke about the need to do more tests for the Coronavirus, according to those who were either call or were knowledgeable about the conversation. However, the presidents also said they needed to know his university would not be sued if someone got sick, it's almost inevitable.

"They were mostly in listening mode, wanting to hear what the federal government could do to be helpful," University of Texas said in Step president Heather Wilson, who was on the call. One way we can help, Wilson, a former Republican congressman from New Mexico and secretary of the Air Force, "is to have some kind of liability protection." He said

Colleges, in seeking the protection of Pence and a committee of the Senate this week, is not alone. Manufacturers and business groups such as the United States Chamber of Commerce have been pushing for his release, at the least temporarily during the pandemic, being responsible if workers, customers and others get sick on their property - something an attorney Texas Christian University told senators is "likely, perhaps inevitable."

Coming as President Trump urges governors in Colorado and Dakota of the North on Wednesday to reopen schools as an important step to return to normal, fear of being sued companies are being picked up by Republican majority of the Senate.

on the floor of the Senate and talking to reporters on Tuesday, the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell said Republicans are working on a proposal to offer businesses the confidence that no it is responsible.

"Many of us are very anxious to return to a certain level of economic interaction and do it safely," he said. "Can you imagine the nightmare unfold this fall if K-12 children are still at home and in schools and universities still are not open? And that scenario is even worse in the absence of any kind of liability protection that ensures school administrators that can be opened again, provided they do so safely and follow the guidelines. "

The push comes as college and university presidents struggle over questions beyond the legal responsibility, and as the Republican chairman of the optimism expressed education committee of the Senate that sufficient Coronavirus tests would be available in the fall for schools to reopen.

"I Think any director, any rector of a university can say, 'Let's take the test. We'll take pneumonia vaccines. We will try to keep people as far apart as possible. We will keep the administrative staff at home. We will develop a strategy to return to school and college is safe to go, ' "Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, told NPR. "That can be staggered weeks of schooling, and it will take more flexible days. A number of changes. But I Think the question is not what we are going, I Think it's how it goes. "

Peter McDonough, general counsel for the American Council on Education, which represents colleges and universities, said in an interview that schools should be able to decide whether reopens physically based solely on whether the students and workers would be safe, not on other factors such as having to defend lawsuits.

"We do not want to postpone the reopening schools because they fear the unknown or demands inevitably expensive," he said.

he and others like Wilson also argue that reopened schools play a vital role in re-energizing the economy because of the number of workers they employ and the importance they play in many cities. Wilson also said that universities are hoping for protection against claims for reimbursement of tuition or room and board.

said an assistant education committee in an email that Alexander also supports schools shielding responsibility.

McConnell has insisted any future Coronavirus relief package should include liability protections that.

It is unclear what the Republicans propose, but the day before university presidents spoke with Pence, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican president Judiciary Committee, he said at a hearing of the committee members of Congress do not want to cancel States. But he alluded to link the Coronavirus helps companies shielding States of responsibility to the least temporarily. States can not complain, Graham said. After accepting "a lot of money" from Congress, which "can not say we have nothing to do in this other scenario."

However, the unions concerns idea, say the companies will be sued shield that workers are putting in higher risk situations.

"could be sent a dangerous message [companies] that the security of these workers is not their responsibility," Marc Perrone, president of the Food and Commercial Workers United Union International, said at the hearing the judicial commission.

The debate comes as the Administration of Occupational Safety and Health of the Department of Labor has been under fire from critics for not issue more regulations on labor safety guide enterprises in what is supposed to do protect workers and customers.

Some of the problems faced by employers and workers, labor and business leaders agreed at the hearing, is that no clear rules for what companies are supposed to do.

Under liability law, bu sinesses are released from being responsible if it is considered to be taking the necessary steps to protect people. But as the nation continues to struggle to find a way to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, there is no definition of what measures would protect schools from being legally responsible.

"There is no playbook. No best practices are established, and this uncertainty is affecting our decisions, "Tyner Larry Leroy Jr., general counsel for Texas Christian University, told senators at the hearing.

Tyner, testifying on behalf of the American Council on Education, compared the current uncertainty approaching a cliff and do not know where there is "a line that would be catastrophic for passing through." Given the uncertainty, many universities are reluctant to go ahead and reopen.

"If you do not know exactly where the edge of the cliff is, avoid the ground near the cliff altogether," he said.

An example of uncertainty about what standards schools will be judged by, he said, are the plans of the University of Arizona and the University of San Diego to reopen doing extensive testing of students and workers virus.

But smaller schools "that can not measure up" to test for the virus more widely worry the courts will find them responsible for students contracting the virus if they reopen without the same as the other institutions, he said.

In addition, Tyner, said colleges and universities operate "public services, buses, police. They are the owners and operate food service, retail stores, convenience stores, health centers, gyms, "as well as sports stadiums and entertainment venues. "Unlike other businesses," he said, "we have to operate many lines of business."

Making the decision to reopen even more complex, McDonough said, is that most schools are open to the public. "We do not want to put wire mesh fences with the control points where there are temperatures being taken and evidence," he said.

However, law professor at Georgetown University David Vladeck argued at the hearing that once campuses and businesses minimal exact rules are set by the government of what is expected of them which should be enough to protect them from being held liable.

and giving schools and businesses immunity from legal responsibility would be counterproductive, he said.

"Consumers and workers will feel that they are returning to work or grocery stores at your own risk," he said, "if they feel like Congress has given employers and businesses a classified pass to shortchange safety. "

Coronavirus  States  Think 

Image of How to find a teaching job in Universities in China
Rate and Comment
Image of Secretary Cardona Holds Virtual Roundtable with Early Childhood Stakeholders to Discuss Priorities for Early Learning
Secretary Cardona Holds Virtual Roundtable with Early Childhood Stakeholders to Discuss Priorities for Early Learning

Cardona Secretary has the virtual round table with early childhood stakeholders to discuss priorities for early learning June 15, 2021 Contact: Pres

Read more →




Already have an account? Login here

contact us


Add Job Alert