Liability Issues for Microschools and Learning Pods
If you are planning to start a microschool or learning pod during the COVID-19 pandemic, you
will want to consider various legal concerns. Some of these relate to liability for exposure to
COVID-19 during the operations of the entity, or more conventional injuries that may occur.
COVID-19 Exposure Liability
Since COVID-19 is a relatively new virus, courts have yet to determine whether a liability waiver
for COVID-19 exposure is enforceable. You may include such a waiver in any contract that you
make with a teacher or another hired individual, but whether it is enforceable in a court of law
is a different question. The same applies for any agreements with parents or students. Children
under 18, in most states, cannot legally enter into a contract. Some states have explicitly stated
that COVID-19 waivers are unenforceable. If you feel strongly about including a liability waiver,
you may want to consider hiring an attorney to help draft it.
Personal Injury and Other Liability Exposure
If your microschool or learning pod is meeting at your home, someone else's home, or a
rotation of homes, you will need to consider whether your insurance would cover an injury to a
child or someone else on your property. What if your dog bites someone? What if your hired
instructor slips and falls in your home? What if you drive the children to a second location and
get into a car accident? These events may or may not be covered under an existing policy and
can be costly without insurance. You may want to talk to your insurance provider or an attorney
to help sort through which kinds of injuries may or may not be covered by existing policies.
A parent or guardian with a child in the microschool or learning pod still risks liability even if
they are not opening their own home to the children. In some states, parents continue to be
liable for certain acts of their children. This means that if your child injures their teacher, a
parent or guardian, or another student, that cost will come out of your own pocket if you do
not have appropriate insurance coverage. Microschools and learning pods may want to require
some kind of personal injury insurance coverage of all members if feasible.
If your microschool or learning pod will meet at a commercial space or a space rented for
meetings, such as a separate apartment or storefront, you will need to not only consider
additional insurance coverage but also agree on who will sign the lease and make rent
payments. Remember that the person or people who sign a lease, and only those people, will
be liable for any violation of the lease. This means that if you and only you sign the lease for
your microschool or learning pod, you and only you will need to pay up when the rent comes
due or property damage occurs.