(May 28) From the day in March that massive reactions to the coronavirus began, two things should have been clear, both of which now come together in a new letter from the American Council on Education.

First, it should have been clear that automatically shutting down all colleges was not a good idea because collegians on the loose were more likely to spread the virus than the same students sequestered on some nonurban campuses. Second, it was obvious that one consideration in colleges (and other businesses) shutting down was based not on science or public health but because of fear of legal liability, no matter how logically unwarranted the lawsuits might be.

Indeed, when I wrote a March 11 column making the first point, I quickly heard from two college administrators who made precisely the second point. Their concerns were valid then, and they remain so today.


For higher education, Congress should “quickly enact temporary and targeted liability protections related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote ACE President Ted Mitchell on behalf of 77 other education organizations. “Encouraging, enabling, and supporting the safe reopening of college and university campuses for in-person learning is essential to educating our nation’s future workforce, preserving employment for millions, and helping restart America’s economy. As colleges and universities contemplate whether and how to safely reopen this fall, their overriding concern is keeping students, faculty, staff, and local communities safe. These decisions are not premised on making a trade-off between safety and the economy.”

The letter makes clear such protections would apply only to basic decisions such as whether to reopen or remain closed but not to “immunize … bad acts,” much less “egregious bad conduct.” What is needed, it says, is merely “temporary and targeted liability protections.”…

[This is important. For the rest of this column, please follow this link.]


Tags: , , , ,