Insurer to provide COVID-19 coverage for Arizona school districts, waivers still recommended

Insurer to provide COVID-19 coverage for Arizona school districts, waivers still recommended
(Source: KOLD News 13)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The insurer that provides coverage for nearly 250 school districts and community colleges in Arizona will now offer coverage for any COVID-19 issues or claims.

The Arizona School Risk Retention Trust provides insurance coverage to nearly 250 public school and community college districts. The Trust’s board approved the coverage on August 4.

According to the Trust, members can now add the coverage for an additional contribution or premium that will vary depending on district size.

Districts and community colleges will have to follow protocol for coverage eligibility. One of the coverage preconditions is that districts implement a reopening plan that incorporates guidelines issued by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) for K-12 districts and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CEC) for community college districts.

Districts must also ask parents and guardians to sign a liability waiver, or an “acknowledgment of risks” form, but parents cannot be required to sign it.

According to the Trust, the purpose of the acknowledgment and waiver forms is to: 

1. Inform parents of the risks inherent in in-person education during the COVID-19 outbreak.

2. Educate parents on the steps they will be expected to take to protect their child(ren) and others from COVID-19 transmission while attending school.

3. Strongly encourage behavior that will reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

4. Limit unfunded district liabilities for COVID-19 exposures.

Late last month,  KOLD News 13 reported the Trust had shared an optional waiver with school districts, intended as a tool to help districts make fiscally prudent decisions necessary to bring students and teachers back to school safely.

Sara Thompson was shocked to see the waiver and even more shocked to learn she had to sign it before her son could return to Tucson Unified School District’s Schumaker Infant and Early Learning Center.

“I was really shocked, almost disturbed and kinda disappointed in my daycare,” said Thompson. “It’s kinda scary to think about as a parent.”

The Trust excluded COVID liability claims from coverage for the members effective July 1, 2020. The board’s approval Tuesday reversed the option for coverage.

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