Florida Judge Rules Governor Did Not Have Authority to Ban School Mask Mandates

Just before the start of the 2021 school year, with COVID-19 rates in Florida rapidly rising, several Florida school boards implemented mask mandates in their school districts. In response, on July 30, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-175, which banned mask mandates in schools, declaring that it should be parents—not the government—who decide whether their children are required to wear masks in school.

On August 6, 2021, a group of parents claiming that their children were adversely affected by the governor’s blanket ban on mask mandates in Florida schools filed a lawsuit against the governor, challenging the constitutionality of the ban. On August 27, 2021, following a four-day virtual trial, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled from the bench that the ban was unlawful, reasoning that DeSantis overreached his authority, misinterpreted state law and disregarded the nation’s best scientific and medical opinions.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

As COVID Retreats, Why You Should Require Students to Get Vaccinated

We no longer wake up every day to increasing numbers of deaths, infections, and reminders about social distancing and vaccine shortages. Instead, we now read about record low numbers of infections, limited fatalities, and a domestic surplus of vaccine so large that we are now vaccinating children as young as 12 and may be exporting it by June.

And, just last week, the CDC dispensed with mask guidance for vaccinated people. This prompted President Biden to host his first “maskless” appearance of his presidency. For college leaders planning the summer and fall semesters, it’s a 180-degree turnaround that we were afraid to hope for just last year.

Yet here we are. The question now vexing colleges is how to safely reopen on-ground learning with a pandemic in retreat. It’s a nice problem to have, but it still has to be solved.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris partner Edward M. Cramp, please visit the University Business website.

Issues for Higher Education Institutions to Consider When Implementing a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

As states have opened COVID-19 vaccinations to all individuals 16 and older (and are expanding to age 12 and older, based on the CDC advisory committee’s recent recommendation), institutions of higher education, like many other employers, are considering whether to encourage or possibly mandate their employees to receive a vaccination. Unlike other organizations, institutions of higher education have the added quandary of whether to encourage or mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for students in an effort to return to full in-person instruction.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

American Rescue Plan Act: What to Expect WIth Regard to Higher Education

On March 10, 2021, Congress passed the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). Building on previous Congressional relief bills – the CARES Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) – the ARPA commits significant resources to colleges and universities. In fact, the ARPA directs more money to institutions, in overall totals, than either of the CARES Act or the CRRSAA.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris attorney Jonathan Helwink, please visit the Duane Morris UpdatED Blog.

Students and Employees – Guidance and Considerations for Masks on Campus

On January 21, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety. On January 29th, OSHA issued new comprehensive guidance.

This recent guidance is intended to inform employers and workers outside of the healthcare industry and to assist them in determining up-to-date and appropriate control measures to implement.

To read the full text by Duane Morris attorney Jonathan Helwink, please visit the Duane Morris UpdatED Blog.

Continued Exceptions for Certain International Students and Academics Confirmed by Biden Administration

With a month in office, the Biden Administration is taking steps to reveal its COVID-19 policy approach to international students and academics. On January 25, 2021, the President announced Proclamation #10143, which extended the previous administration’s limitation on travel to the U.S. from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. On February 10, 2021, the Department of State confirmed that national interest exceptions (NIE) to the travel ban, first issued in October 2020, will remain in place in the new administration.

To read the full post by Duane Morris attorney Jonathan Helwink, please visit the Duane Morris UpdatED Blog.

University Pricing and and Learning Disruptions Can Open a Pandora’s Box

A common question for colleges today is whether to reduce tuition prices if they cannot provide on-campus classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The short answer, both legally and morally, is that colleges should not charge students for services they cannot or do not deliver.

The ultimate answer is more complex and requires a disaggregating analysis of the services that that were included in the price of tuition, including a review of the value associated with in-person interactions.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris partner Tony Guida, please visit the University Business website.

Inauguration 2021: Anticipated Government Policy Updates and Changes Regarding COVID-19 Concerns

Duane Morris will be hosting the webinar, “Inauguration 2021: Anticipated Government Policy Updates and Changes Regarding COVID-19 Concerns,” on January 28, 2021, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

This is the first 2021 session of the Duane Morris COVID-19: Navigating Forward Webinar Series. For more information and the registration link, please visit the firm website.

Federal Judge Dismisses COVID-Related College Tuition Refund Claims

Since the global pandemic forced most college campuses to resort to online instruction in March 2020, college students across the country have filed more than 150 lawsuits against their schools seeking refunds of tuition and related fees.

This month, a federal judge in Boston made the first dispositive ruling in such a case against Northeastern University – tossing out most of the claims asserted by the students in a putative class-action matter.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris attorney Deanna Lucci, please visit the Duane Morris UpdatED Blog.