Who’s Liable in the Age of COVID-19?

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

Republican Guvs Call for Liability Protection. Republican governors from across the U.S. sent congressional leaders a letter asking that civil liability protections for healthcare workers, businesses and schools be included in the phase four relief package being considered in Congress. Senate Republicans recently drafted a proposal that would offer a five-year shield from coronavirus lawsuits as part of the next COVID-19 relief package. This proposal would give federal courts jurisdiction over lawsuits related to personal injuries or medical liability tied to coronavirus infections, preventing lawsuits in state courts. Read the governors’ letter here and more in The Hill.

Recovery Packages Broached in Congress. Senate Republicans released a draft coronavirus relief package that would include $105 billion to help schools safely reopen and liability protection for schools. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the package would center on “kids, jobs and health care” in an attempt to find a “middle ground” between another massive rescue effort and a simple economic stimulus measure. Helping kids, McConnell said, will require spending $105 billion “so that educators have the resources they need to safely reopen.” House Democrats included $100 billion in legislation that chamber passed in May. Vox reports on current negotiations.

CDC Releases New Guidance on Safely Reopening Schools. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new resources and tools for school administrators, teachers, parents, guardians and caregivers when schools reopen this fall. Along with the guidance, the CDC released a statement emphasizing the importance of opening schools in the fall, the New York Times reports. The guidance recommends that schools respond to the level of threat in their communities, but also encourages schools to open if possible, The Hill reports.

NAACP Sues Ed Dept Over CARES Act Funding. The NAACP filed a lawsuit to stop the U.S. Education Department’s rule determining how to distribute $13.5 billion in coronavirus-related relief for K-12 schools. The NAACP argued that the Education Department’s interpretation will send hundreds of millions of dollars to private schools against the will of Congress. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington on behalf of several public school districts, their students and parents. It also argues that the Education Department did not have the authority to issue the rule last month that effectively changed the COVID-19 relief law.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week Congress is in session featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of July 27, 2020. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.


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