Alabama revises campus reinstatement form after fears he will waive legal rights

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The University of Alabama changed the language in a recognition form required for students, faculty and staff to return to campus.

Students, faculty and staff took issue with the original version, saying it was more akin to a legal waiver that relieved the school of any liability in the event of a COVID-19 infection on campus.

UA confirmed that the language had been revised and while all concerns were not mitigated by students and faculty / staff, the changes were viewed as a positive step by those interviewed by AL.com.

The original acknowledgment form required for return to campus indicated that individuals “voluntarily assumed such a risk” associated with learning on campus in the event of a pandemic. The new version removes this language.

The old version of the recognition required of University of Alabama students, faculty, and staff.

“I recognize that even though I and the University exercise all reasonable care in our actions,” the updated version read, “there is still a risk that I will be exposed to or infected with COVID-19 during whether I am on University grounds or property, or while participating in academic or business activities.

Those who accepted the original version can go back and accept the new one “which will replace any previously completed acknowledgment,” according to the AU website.

RELATED: AU chancellor says it is now up to students and faculty to responsibly return to campus

The changes were welcomed by second year law student Haley Czarnek. When questioned on Tuesday, Czarnek said she understood the wording of the risk hypothesis “as very specific legal language”.

At the time, she had not checked the “I acknowledge receipt” box at the bottom of the statement. After the review, she changed her mind and agreed.

The recognition in question was part of the COVID-19 training that every student, teacher and staff member must take to return to campus. There was a series of videos to watch and the thank you box appeared at the end. Clicking the “I Decline” box would not give the user the certification to re-enter the campus with classes starting August 19.

New Alabama exemption

The new version of the UA recognition form for students, faculty and staff.

UA System Chancellor Finis St. John was asked about this process in an interview Monday with AL.com.

“To my knowledge, there is no waiver,” said St. John. “I haven’t looked at the language recently, but I could refer this matter to our General Counsel. But I don’t think there is an exemption. At most, I think there’s an acknowledgment, but again I could let our General Counsel answer that question.

A spokesperson for UA System then sent a statement on the matter.

“Faculty and staff on our campuses have been urged to recognize that they understand that the rules, regulations and protocols (testing, social distancing requirements, use of PPE, etc.) have been implemented,” the report said. communicated. “There is no language of accountability in the Return-to-Campus acknowledgment document.”

Still, Czarnek said law students were uncomfortable with this original formulation.

“My concern is if I sign this, what will a judge think if legal action is taken in court,” Czarnek said on Tuesday. “It’s not that I intend to take legal action, that’s not the point, but I find it hard to see how it wouldn’t have legal effect. It’s all in the air so it’s hard to know, but I’d be interested to know why this sentence was included if there was no intention to use it in a legal setting.

AU English instructor Garrett Bridger Gilmore also took a wait-and-see approach after seeing the original wording. On Thursday afternoon, Bridger Gilmore said he was inclined to accept the new version.

An AU spokesperson made a statement Thursday on the deal that students, faculty and staff must agree to.

“A recognition form, which was recently revised, is included as part of the COVID-19 training that all students, faculty and staff must complete,” it read. “This part of the training provides additional notification on the risks associated with COVID-19 and asks members of the campus community to confirm their understanding of these risks and their agreement to comply with the measures that have been put in place to mitigate these risks. “

Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on twitter @ByCasagrande Or on Facebook.



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