N.J. colleges want immunity if COVID-19 hits students, faculty this fall – NJ.com
What will it take for New Jersey colleges to reopen this fall?
A stockpile of PPE, capacity for coronavirus testing, guidelines for contact tracing, and some college presidents say, no legal recourse for students and faculty who contract COVID-19 while on campus.
“Is there any safe harbor that can be provided by the state so that if we bring our students back and follow all the approved (protocols), we will not be held liable?” Felician University President Anne Prisco asked state lawmakers Tuesday.
Prisco and several college presidents requested immunity from coronavirus lawsuits during a Senate Higher Education Committee hearing on the impact of COVID-19 on colleges. The threat of costly lawsuits remains an impediment to colleges reopening, said Eugene Lepore, executive director of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities.
Calls for immunity from New Jersey academic leaders thrust local colleges into the heart of a national debate over how society should reopen and what legal protections are necessary for businesses and institutions. Their requests echo college presidents nationwide as higher education grapples with reopening campuses designed for crowded classrooms, cafeterias and residence halls in a time of social distancing.