Friday, July 24, 2020

The 'HEROES' Act will Prevent Us From Suing

With state and local governments facing a financial crisis stemming from the pandemic, all eyes are on Washington in hopes that the Senate (back in session this week from a vacation) can agree on a rescue package.

The "HEROES" Act (which is actually just House's version of the bill) is celebrated as our only chance to avoid massive layoffs and drastic budget cuts. In addition to the possibility of expanded Unemployment Insurance, the bill promises federal aid to state governments and to school districts as well as help with the upscale of testing. 

The Republicans are divided over some key issues: Some want no UI. Others want no special aid going to states and still others want no flexibility of current aid used by states. 

One of the few things they all agree on? Liability Protections

Senate Republicans are proposing robust legal protections for U.S. universities, schools and businesses across the country in order to reopen without the threat of COVID-related lawsuits looming overhead, according to a portion of the draft summary of the forthcoming coronavirus relief package obtained by CBS News. 
The summary, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, includes a laundry list of legal liability protections which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has emphasized as his red line to any future COVID-19 relief support. Included in the list are temporary protection from the trial bar for schools, colleges, charities and business that follow public health guidelines and for frontline medical workers. 
"So that people who acted in good faith during this crisis, are not confronted with a second epidemic of lawsuits in the wake of the pandemic that we're already struggling with," McConnell said this week at a Louisville, Kentucky press conference. 

Democrats agree too. So,  if the rescue package succeeds, no one will be able to to sue the NYCDoE of the City of New York for exposing us to COVID. I think we all know the NYCDOE well. They'll send an email and go over procedures with school staff but when it comes to actually following CDC guidelines on a day to day basis, they'll just let their school-based staff ignore as many rules as they want and will enforce only what manages to make it into the newspapers.

In February and March, so many school-based staff were exposed to the virus that the City of New York refused to release the number. The DOE was the only city department to not offer a full account of how many people may had become sick during this time (they still refuse to release the numbers to date and the UFT isn't pushing them to do so). So, because of city and DOE negligence last the Spring, more than 70 education employees died of COVID and a literal countless amount became sick. Now, for the Fall, they will have further protection from being sued if (or when) they repeated the same negligence.

They're going to repeat the same negligence. We all know this. The  DOE and NYC in general have been famous for providing almost no leadership in preparation for the Fall. So relieving them from the burden of even having to appear in court from a parent or employee suite will spell an absolute disaster for employees and parents alike.

Hi I'm doenuts. I'm an employee.  I'm also a parent.

But if you trust the New York City Department of Education to keep you safe, without an option to sue in the event that they get you sick, then I have a perfectly good bridge to sell you.

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