The Story Behind COVID-19 Waiver Forms Used in Arizona School Districts | Arizona State Schools
PRESCOTT, AZ (3TV / CBS 5) – As the number of COVID cases continues to rise in Arizona, some school districts are using a COVID-19 waiver form to hold parents responsible if COVID-related issues arise on school property.
The forms are optional for parents to sign, but the reason the district sends them to families is insurance related. If a family does not sign these forms, the district is not covered if a family decides to sue them.
“We have issues with COVID, our whole community is on it,” Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Joe Howard said. “We’ve had cases today, one in our high school and one in our middle school. And these result in mini-quarantines.”
Prescott Unified does not have a mask mandate in place, and Howard says the COVID-19 waiver forms they use are a way to protect not only schools but the Prescott community as a whole.
Prescott’s parents concerned about the district’s COVID-19 waiver
“If there’s a lawsuit against you, then you’re not using taxpayer dollars that could go into the classroom and help the kids,” Howard said.
Prescott is not the only school district to have sent out these waivers this school year. Union Elementary School District in Tolleson sent an almost identical one, saying they are doing it on the recommendation of their insurance company.
The forms come from a nonprofit called The Arizona School Risk Retention Trust, which provides liability insurance to public schools and community colleges across the state. They say that “the forms are another way of recognizing that no matter how hard districts try, they cannot control all environmental variables.”
At Prescott High School, that includes social distancing. “When you’re back in person, we have fourteen to fifteen hundred kids in our high school. You can’t impose social distancing,” Howard said.
Howard acknowledges that this is not something that many parents will want to hear. But he has this message for those in his district who choose not to sign the COVID-19 waiver as a result: “If you sue us and don’t sign it, we’ll have to pay $ 20,000 before this policy goes into effect,” Howard said. “And that’s a third of a teacher, that’s how I see it.”
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