Educators, staff protected from legal liability in event of COVID-19 outbreak

Education
Educators look to enhance cultural relevance in schools

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico Howie Morales and the Executive Director of the New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority Richard Valerio announced Tuesday that individual teachers and educators are not legally liable for any COVID-19 infections that may occur in schools.

“We want to be perfectly clear: teachers, educators and staff in our public schools and charters will not be held liable in the event of a COVID-19 infection outbreak.  It’s important to clarify this fact after some unfortunate misinterpretation of NMPSIA’s e-mail to superintendents. We will protect all of our educators and staff who are on the front lines of this pandemic today, and we are extremely grateful for their contributions to our students and our communities,” said Lt. Governor Howie Morales in a news release, a former classroom teacher. 

According to the same news release, New Mexico’s school districts are required by the state to meet health and safety obligations under strict reentry rules addressing COVID-19 and school employees do not face legal liability under the requirements.

“We know educators will use and enforce COVID-safe practices in the classroom and in the schools. Safety is our top concern as we reopen. I am also confident schools are taking the necessary and required steps to protect students and staff.  I don’t want any educators or staff to worry about this issue of liability – they have enough on their plates,” said Morales in the same news release.

“In no way will teachers or school employees be held personally liable for litigation arising out of COVID-19. NMPSIA sent the letter in an effort to support the State’s districts, charter schools and communities in determining plans and strategies for safely reopening schools in 2020–2021, and to mitigate any potential risks,” said Richard Valerio in the same news release.

NMPSIA offers general liability coverages that protect districts, schools, employees and members of boards or commissions. The coverages include attorney defense costs as well as the cost of any settlement or damage awarded by a court.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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