Parents asked to sign COVID-19 waiver for in-person learning

Promising to not sue district for COVID-19 related claims
Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 6:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Many people sign waivers to go on a ride at a fair or go on a ski trip but some school districts have asked parents to sign a liability form for their child to return to school in-person. Marana Unified School District parents who sign the waiver are promising to not sue the school district for any trauma, illness or death to their child or household from COVID-19.

“It acknowledges that this is a very dangerous virus that this could be potentially deadly," Peter Akmajian, a lawyer in Tucson. "Basically it says we will do our best but even doing our best we can’t necessarily prevent spread.”

Melissa Nail has a third grade son in Marana schools. Seeing the waiver reminded her of forms she’s signed before major surgeries.

“Sort of a gut check to see a similar document but pertaining to him attending third grade as opposed to, you know, a major medical issue," Nail said.

Marana Unified School District CFO Dan Contorno said the district added on a $100,000 insurance protection through the Arizona School Risk Retention Trust to protect from lawsuits that may arise from COVID-related claims. The school district would have to pay a $10,000 deductible per claim but the waiver wipes this cost.

The idea of the waiver makes Nail uncomfortable and she’s chosen to not send her son back to in-person classes.

“People will tell you to always follow the money so I’m asking the question if the money isn’t there, then are our children safe in Marana Unified School District," she said.

If a school district takes all precautions then the waiver does give a strong defense in court, however under Arizona law parents can still sue, Akmajian said.

“If they really fall down and fail to protect someone, then much less likely the waiver would be valid," he said.

Marana students are still remote learning and waiting for their governing board to decided when they’ll return to the classroom.

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