Students at Penn State forced to sign COVID-19 liability waiver to participate in fall semester -

Published by PENNLIVE.COM

Summary generated on August 12, 2020

    By Sara Simon of Spotlight PA.HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania State University, the behemoth public research university with enrollment nearing 100,000, is forcing students to sign a liability agreement and assume all risk of COVID-19 prior to returning to campus for the fall semester.

    Some students and faculty have started speaking out against Penn State's plans, saying the university's decision to bring students back to campus - and hold half of all classes with at least some in-person instruction - both disregards the well-being of the Penn State community and threatens the sparse health-care resources available to local residents.

    The compact isn't helping to quell concerns.

    Penn State isn't alone in asking students to assume risk of COVID-19.

    A handful of colleges and universities across the country have started to ask students to sign liability waivers in advance of returning to campus.

    Penn State has said it is taking extensive precautions in advance of the semester.

    The university is asking all faculty, staff, and students to quarantine for at least seven days prior to returning to campus.

    The school is also reaching out to 30,000 people coming from areas with a high prevalence of COVID-19 for pre-arrival testing.

    Feldman, the law professor, recommended students reach out to Penn State in good faith and explain they want to enroll but hope to see a modified agreement.

    At a minimum, she said, contacting the university now with concerns about the compact will better position students later, should they need to file a claim.

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    Worries about the coronavirus extend beyond the on-campus impact, said Hernandez, the graduate student.

    An influx of students will put the local State College community at risk, she said.

    At a July 30 town hall, Kevin Black, interim dean of Penn State's College of Medicine, explained what Penn State would consider to shift to fully remote learning.

    Mariam Taleb is a graduate student at Penn State studying entomology and international agriculture and development.