Coronavirus Resources for Schools

AB 1384 (O'Donnell) Fact Sheet

Contains resources from school districts and public health agencies.

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FACT SHEET AB 1384 (O'Donnell) As Amended June 29, 2020 SUMMARY AB 1384 ensures that local educational agencies (LEAs) establish COVID-19 health and safety policies and procedures for reopening schools and provides limited liability protection against monetary liability for COVID-19 related claims. BACKGROUND In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, beginning in March 2020, almost all of California's K-12 schools closed and made the transition from in-person learning to distance learning in order to continue serving the educational needs of students while protecting their health and safety and minimizing the spread of COVID-19. LEAs, defined as school districts, county offices of education (COE), schools operated by COEs, charter schools, the California School for the Deaf and the California School for the Blind, are in the process of developing academic programs and plans for the 20-21 school year. In addition to academic benefits and the ability to provide support systems to the state's most vulnerable students, reopening schools enable students to have access to nutritious meals and support services, and enable parents and guardians to maintain employment. While our school leaders, teachers, and other school staff deserve much credit for establishing distance learning in a short period of time following the closure of schools, the value of in- person learning for students, families and communities cannot be over-emphasized. The 2020-21 budget trailer bill, SB 98, expresses the expectation that schools provide in-person instruction and offer distance learning only under specified circumstances. NEED FOR THE BILL COVID-19 remains unpredictable. Even if LEAs follow all state and local health legal requirements and guidance, recommendations continue to change, and an LEA will not be able to guarantee that no individual with COVID-19 will enter a schoolsite. In order for LEAs to be able to plan the school year with a focus solely on instruction and the needs of students, LEAs need the confidence and assurance that the budget allocations they make will not be diverted to pay legal bills. COVID-19 has caused a state shortfall of $54 billion and increased costs to LEAs for prevention, cleaning and distance learning. Limited resources must be devoted to instruction and student support. In addition, school staff, who are critical for reopening schools, must also receive assurance that they will be protected from liability. SOLUTION AB 1384 provides that if a local governing board of an LEA or its designee establishes policies and procedures for operating programs and facilities that are consistent with federal, state, and local legal and regulatory requirements, including consideration of state and local health guidelines, the LEA, its officers or employees, will be exempted from monetary liability and damages for any COVID-19 related injuries. The bill: Does not provide liability protection for gross negligence or for reckless, intentional or willful and wanton misconduct. Does not affect workers' compensation coverage for LEA employees. Covers the period during the COVID-19 state of emergency or 12 months after the end of the emergency.

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