Heading Off To College? Be Prepared To Sign A Statement ‘Voluntarily’ Accepting The Risk You’ll Catch COVID-19
Education Practice Co-Chair Paul Lannon was cited in a Chicago Tribune article discussing the distribution of "liability forms" or "waivers" by colleges and universities to help avoid financial repercussions if there were to be a COVID-19 outbreak on campus. Not all of these forms are the same, but many students, faculty and staff are being confronted with similar documents as a prerequisite for returning. Many of the forms include statements that universities cannot guarantee risk-free environments and that those returning to campus are doing so voluntarily. Mr. Lannon said the agreements work in everyone’s favor by providing an understanding of the expectations on campus. Many schools have sent out documents called “assumptions of risk” notices — which are distinct from liability waivers — that also communicate what schools are doing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“Schools think it’s fair and appropriate to notify their community that there are risks so that the members of the community can make their own risk assessment,” said Mr. Lannon, who’s drafted a number of these forms for university clients. “We put the people on notice so they can’t say ... ‘Had I known about the risk, I wouldn’t have gone,’ or ‘I wouldn’t have allowed my children to go.‘”