State rule means educators, students wear face masks
October 15, 2020
The Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA) has issued a strongly worded message to Nebraska school districts calling on them to “require the use of face coverings by all staff and students” and putting districts on notice that ignoring that advice could lead to “significant legal liability.”
NSEA sent a letter to all Nebraska school district superintendents noting that the state’s Sept. 1 Directed Health Measure (DHM) added educators to the list of “essential employees” and mandated that teachers and other school employees are now “exempted from certain quarantine requirements if they, among other things, wear face coverings.”
Students are also no longer required to quarantine if face coverings were used at the time of a close contact with someone who is symptomatic or positive with COVID-19.
“Both exceptions,” said Jenni Benson, NSEA president, “clearly focus on the presence of face coverings.
“The science and data are clear: The spread of COVID-19 is minimized when everyone wears face coverings. School districts that do not require students to wear face coverings are unreasonably and needlessly exposing students and staff to COVID-19,” said Benson. “Lack of action in that regard also exposes the district to legal liability.”
Benson noted that in September, the president of the insurance pool that provides liability coverage for many Nebraska school districts advised that school districts “should make sure they have a good COVID-19 plan and pay attention to health department directives.”
Benson said “The NSEA considers notice of a quarantine exception and mandatory face coverings as a minimum standard of care necessary to satisfy every school district’s legal duty to protect employee health and safety.
“School districts that do not require the use of face coverings for all students and staff, or that fail to notify employees when others in their work environment remain in the school building pursuant to DHM quarantine expectations, subject the district and those responsible, including administration and board members, to potentially significant legal liability.”