COVID-19 Impact

Are Schools Ready for Pandemic Lawsuits?

U.S. schools are already heading back to class, and a recent article has posed the question: Are they ready for the potential liability claims that could follow?

In an article published on finder, a website that "helps people make better decisions," insurance experts addressed four topics for schools to consider:

  • How the pandemic has changed the way schools approach insurance;

  • What the types of insurance are that schools should invest in;

  • What essential insurance coverage for schools would be to cover COVID-19 claims; and

  • What the best insurance for teachers is.

As the article noted, with heavy pressure coming from many sides to return to in-person education, for some schools, the "high cost of coverage may affect their decision to reopen in the fall." The risk is that a district could be sued by somebody contracting COVID-19 by participating in classes or school events.

In some cases, insurance companies have added "pandemic exclusions" to policies, leaving schools especially vulnerable to the impact of lawsuits.

"At the brink of the new school year, school boards, teachers and parents all face heavy questions surrounding a return to in-person school. Together, we're weighing topics like adequate safety measures, new policies, procedures and guidelines, sufficient insurance coverage and even cybersecurity in line with online learning. We all want to know if the benefits outweigh the risks," said Megan Shepherd, insurance editor for finder.

While precautions such as small group learning, requiring masks and the like will play a role in the level of risk, she said, "when it comes to schools and teachers being equipped for the possibility of financial loss, understanding how to protect yourself using comprehensive insurance coverage is key. Policies like commercial property insurance, umbrella insurance, cyber insurance, life insurance and disability insurance will play a substantial role in mitigating risks."

The guidance is openly available on the Finder website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.