Students, parents and teachers have been anxiously waiting for news of what classrooms will look like in the fall, specifically whether they will be in-person and what restrictions will be required.
In effort to promote in-person classes, Louisiana lawmakers passed a law protecting schools from lawsuits by students and teachers who contract COVID-19. The new law was signed by Governor Edwards on July 8, 2020 and was effective retroactively to March 11, 2020, when the Governor declared the public health emergency.
Under the law, schools are shielded from lawsuits by those who are exposed to or contract COVID-19 at a school, school facility, school bus or school sponsored event. The law’s protections apply to all public and nonpublic K-12 schools, colleges and universities.
Further, the law requires the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and governing boards of each college and university to outline specific minimum safety standards to protect from COVID-19 to the greatest extent possible and practical. Prior to the beginning of the school year, each school and college must implement policies and rules to protect against exposure in accordance with the guidelines provided by the State Board.
The limitation of liability provided under the new law is not absolute. A person will be able to recover damages if they prove they were exposed to or contracted COVID-19 because the school acted grossly negligent, wanton or reckless misconduct.