When School is in session, but not in the schoolhouse.
As many parents, children, and educators are aware, 2020 is presenting many challenges with online classes and new styles of teaching and learning. The new programs are also creating unique opportunities for other organizations, such as churches and/or community centers for opening up their facilities for remote learning sites. The risks and hazards that come with remote learning centers require consideration before contracting with schools and universities to provide educational spaces for students.
One of the obvious considerations for operating a remote learning center is the appropriate space required for hosting students safely. In light of the recent pandemic restrictions with COVID-19, physical space that allows for up to 6 feet of distance between students is crucial in following proper safety measures.
Safe distancing usually restricts the number of students an organization can accommodate, so this may translate to alternating schedules to allow learning opportunities for the greatest number of students at your premises. Some college groups may also utilize evening and/or weekend class times for serving their student base most effectively.
Once your organization determines the number of students you can accommodate, you will need to consider the manpower necessary to supervise and oversee your remote operation. As in any situation where you may utilize volunteers, you will want to implement background screening policies and procedures. This should include a worker application as well as a criminal background check to prevent any risks of child abuse. Training and maintaining adequate state-regulated certification are important factors in staffing. Another consideration is being sure your organization carries adequate liability protection for all volunteers.
Students and parents are chief factors in providing remote online learning. One of the vital aspects of minimizing liability and litigation is keeping parents informed about the risks associated with online learning. A participation agreement should be signed by every parent for each child attending the learning site. This statement does not alleviate your organization’s legal liability responsibilities but may be helpful in proving your consistency in parental involvement and knowledge of the program’s activities. Signed participation agreements should be maintained and secured at the organization’s administrative offices for record-keeping purposes.
Entering into a contracted agreement with a school or university requires exchanges of Certificates of Insurance naming each group as Certificate Holder and Additional Insured on the evidence of coverage. This includes indemnification and a Hold Harmless Agreement as that each group is adequately protected by sharing liability for each other. Certificates of Insurance should be maintained for your organization and shared with your insurance carrier to be certain that the other party’s coverage is adequate for what your exposures require.
As with any project or new venture in offering services to groups outside your church or civic organization, you should always determine and assess your risks and opportunities associated with the proposed activity. You should understand your legal obligations to all parties involved and how best to meet those needs. One resource in understanding and protecting your risks and exposures is information you can obtain from your insurance agent. As risk professionals, we are happy to discuss risk and your coverage options to assist you in making informed decisions. Give us a call today!