Parents 'lawyered' up last year to sue colleges and the Varsity Blues parents in the college admissions scam. Parents and students 'lawyered' up in Spring to sue for tuition, room and board refunds. Colleges are 'lawyering up' for fall. Colleges are lobbying Congress to exempt them from liability of anything relating to Covid. Colleges are working with lawyers to write waivers they will require students returning to campus to sign absolving the colleges of any safety responsibility. Here is a look at trends appearing.
This does not represent any form of legal advice; this is just a recap of various news related to colleges and legal issues and discussion of trends.
Campus at Your Own Risk
Waiving the college's responsibility for Covid-related sickness, or raminfications will almost certainly be required for those returning to campus. But like all those waivers, they are hard to enforce. The case is frequently made that the signers (teens, young adults) do not fully understand the waiver, The age of the signers would be made an issue. Waivers can be effectively used against the college.
Waiving Liability Lobbying
College are lobbying for Congress to absolve them from any liability or lawsuits related to Covid.
This is probably not something parents should worry about. Lawyers have a stronger lobbying force in Congress than colleges. They do not want the liability waived as they are making a fortune handling parent/student lawsuits, defending colleges and even 'writing' the individual college waivers that will then be challenged.
Covid and colleges are a legal 'nightmare' but a lucrative growth field for the legal profession.
But remember, Covid-related lawsuits are hard to prove.
Tuition Recovery Lawsuits
Right now there are over 100 class action lawsuits against colleges trying to recover tuition from the Spring move to online.
These are not going well. It is hard to establish "class" as college is funded in some many ways--bank loans, grants, scholarships, work/study, merit money, state or government funds, goverment subsidized loans. So, a legal rub, but a legitimate issue.
Also, teaching continued. The education continued uninterrupted so technically nothing was lost (campus experience is not considered part of that teaching/learning experience.)
Students often did not completely vacate room and intended to return. But there is nothing in housing documents to say that the students have to be in the rooms. They are rented for the semester, whether or not they can occupy them.
Colleges are looking at posting rules, such as masks and social distancing everywhere on campus. They are also writing elaborate student handbooks and rules for students to sign in addition or instead of a waiver.
But who is going to enforce these rules. Different colleges plan different strategies.
The student dream---the dorm room