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Legal Considerations for Your COVID Learning Pod

Posted: 09/01/2020
Industries: K-12 Schools

Parents forming “Learning Pods” to complement or facilitate their children’s virtual schooling should consider a few simple contracts and compacts to ensure smooth sailing – and, most important, to prioritize everyone’s health and safety. A basic agreement among families, and with the teacher/facilitator, can go a long way to preventing disagreement in an environment of unknowns. For example:

  • What happens if a family member of a pod-student tests positive for COVID-19? Families will want an agreed-upon protocol for testing and isolation.
  • What if the state or local government instates strict social distancing or “lockdown” measures? Institute a plan for how the teacher/facilitator and students can still interact, and what impact this may have on the teacher’s/facilitator’s responsibilities.
  • What are the teacher’s and families’ expectations about face coverings and activities outside of the pod? Any waiver or liability language needs to be carefully considered and drafted by an attorney.

Families may want to consider one agreement for the teacher/facilitator which covers background checks, clear resignation/termination language, and a mutually agreed protocol for “sick leave”. Another agreement among the families may read more like a “social compact”, and can address issues such as health checks, travel, face coverings, premises liability and insurance, and an agreement to cooperate with state and local guidance.

Given the myriad of unknowns facing parents over the next few months, thinking through your virtual learning/pod arrangement now can give families tools to fall back on when unanticipated circumstances arise. By asking, “What does the agreement say?” families can be sure that the focus is on learning, not uncertainty.

Our K-12 Education attorneys can assist parents in working through these considerations and putting together agreements that address them.