Are Florida parents and teachers being asked to sign coronavirus waivers?

Florida COVID-19

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Here is a link to many coronavirus resources

Florida has again broken its record with 173 reported coronavirus deaths over the last day. The state health department reported Thusday that there were more than 10,200 new coronavirus cases — with a total of more than 389,000 positive cases during the pandemic.

Florida’s seven-day average is now 121 deaths a day. More than 3.2 million people have been tested; the seven-day average number of positive coronavirus tests in Florida is now more than 18%.

Because the coronavirus is so prevalent in the Tampa Bay area, many parents and teachers are worried about in-person school instruction beginning next month.

A lawyer in St. Petersburg says he is concerned that some school districts may ask teachers or parents to sign waivers in case students or school staff get sick with COVID-19 after returning to school.

Charles Gallagher is with Gallagher & Associates Law Firm.

“We’re hearing questions from folks on both – with regard to teacher and student waivers. In connection with the teacher waivers, we’re getting a lot of nervous calls from teachers that they’re being asked to sign these waivers as condition of going back to school to teach, for reemployment purposes.

“These waivers have language that is pretty scary that says that coming back to teach, if you catch COVID – if you contract it, become ill, and ultimately pass away – you would not have any rights to bring an action against the school board or school. And you have exhausted any kind of claims or rights you have at all by signing this waiver.

“These waivers both in the student context and the teacher context have language in there for assumption of risk as well as just vast and sweeping liability-release type language.

“So, teachers are very concerned, very scared. We’re getting a number of calls on that. Then we’ve also gotten calls regarding some student waivers.”

“…There’s a whole myriad of legal issues that are out there and I think presents some issues to defeating them if they were ever brought before a court to be enforced.”

Related to that, your law firm has offered teachers end-of-life planning?

“As a result of hearing a couple of stories that came out a few weeks back about three teachers in Texas. This was an NPR story about three teachers going in for a June workshop of sorts. And all three contracting COVID, one of them dying. … We offered living wills / advance directives — kind of the same thing — for those teachers that needed them.”

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information from the Associated Press was used in this report

Here is information provided Thursday by Hillsborough County’s Emergency Policy Group:

July 23 EPG Summary: COVID-19 Trends for Youngest Residents Must be Closely Monitored

COVID-19 Coronavirus Update No. 189

Hillsborough County, Fla. (July 23, 2020) – Local emergency officials must continue to carefully watch trends regarding COVID-19 coronavirus cases in children and young adults, and prepare to adapt policies and actions in response, members of the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group heard today.

Pediatrics expert Dr. John Curran, University of South Florida Professor Emeritus and chairman of the County’s Health Care Advisory Board, presented a detailed report to the EPG on local pandemic data by age breakdown. The 5-19 school-age group on average attributes to 10% of the positive cases that occurred in Hillsborough County within the last 30 days, he noted. The age group that appears to have the largest impact of COVID-19 cases appears to be in the 20-24 college-age range.

But while the majority of younger children are not impacted by the virus in the same way as adults – Dr. Curran said that data kept by the state indicates that 96% of hospitalizations are of people older than 25 – there is still much uncertainty over how the virus is transmitted between children and adults.

Also, current positivity rates for school-age and college-age groups have occurred within the past 30 days, when nearly all schools and universities have not held classes. Therefore emergency leaders must continue to closely monitor the trends and respond accordingly, particularly as students return to school next month, Dr. Curran advised.

In other news from today’s meeting, EPG members extended a state of local emergency enacted in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. A state of local emergency can be in effect for only seven days, unless rescinded. The declaration gives the County Administrator and emergency managers the ability to quickly take certain actions to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the community, and provides a path for federal reimbursement of certain expenses.

The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group is comprised of three County Commissioners, the mayors from the cities of Plant City, Tampa, and Temple Terrace, the Sheriff, and Chairman of the School Board. Authority is granted by Article 8 of the Florida Constitution, Section 125.66 and Chapter 252, Florida Statutes. Hillsborough County enacted Hillsborough County Code of Ordinances and Laws Chapter 22, Article II, Sections 22-23 in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the County’s residents during declared emergencies.

The next EPG meeting is scheduled Monday, July 27 at 1:30 p.m.

Other Hillsborough County News

Questions about child care during the pandemic? Go online to County’s Facebook page Friday. Hillsborough County is hosting a Facebook Live event with Dr.

Patricia Emmanuel, Chair of Pediatrics for the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine, on Friday, July 24, at 3 p.m. to discuss and answer questions about child care concerns amid COVID-19. The discussion will be held on the County’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/HillsboroughFL.

Get Connected. Stay Alert.

For more information on COVID-19, and any other potential emergency in the county, visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe and sign up for the HCFL Alert system.

Additionally, you can follow Hillsborough County on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor for updates. For general County information, call (813) 272-5900, the County’s main information line.