Some school districts are requiring parents to sign COVID-19 waivers before their children can attend in-person classes or participate in sports this fall.
School systems in Florida, Missouri and South Carolina have already introduced the documents, multiple news outlets reported.
In the St. Louis and Tampa areas, some schools are requiring waivers for students who choose to participate in athletics or other activities after school, KSDK and WTSP reported.
And outside of Charleston, South Carolina, the Berkeley County School District requires parents to sign a waiver if they want their children to attend classes on campus, according to WCSC.
Why do schools have waivers?
Across the country, schools closed their campuses last semester to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Several districts are now weighing whether to have in-person or online learning.
Some school leaders have said their districts added waivers to inform parents of the risks of returning to the physical campus as the coronavirus spreads, news outlets reported.
“At this point all school districts can do is mitigate the risk related to COVID-19,” Anthony Kiekow, spokesperson for the Hazelwood School District in Missouri, told KSDK. “No one can offer full protection from a global pandemic.”
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In Florida, the School Board of Highlands County said its waiver also reminds parents to watch kids for possible COVID-19 symptoms and keep them at home if they may have been exposed, WFTS reported.
It’s possible waivers will become more common as the start of school nears, the TV station reported.
“It’s risk management because they’re saying, we want to make sure that we carve out whatever might erupt from this horrible disease that effects kids and their families,” Dr. Jay Wolfson, a professor at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, told WFTS.
Some parents don’t seem to be on board with the idea.
Shannon Selby says she monitored other Missouri parents’ reactions to the Hazelwood School District waiver and told KSDK: “I think for most of them this kind of sealed the deal for them not wanting to send their children back.”
“They’re covering their rears,” Ansley Hammond, a Berkley County parent, told WCIV. “I understand that that’s my choice. It just (feels) very businesslike and impersonal.”
In South Carolina, a lawyer told a news outlet parents who sign waivers may still be allowed to sue school districts.
“Our courts are very clear, you cannot waive your right to sue someone or bring a claim for someone’s gross negligence or reckless conduct,” attorney Mark Peper told WCSC.
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