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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Resumption of Live Teaching

There are many news stories about outbreaks at universities that are attempting to reopen. I would like to give a modestly upbeat take.

I taught my first two classes of the semester yesterday. (Two sections of Torts.) It did feel odd talking through a mask and seeing the students in masks. For maybe five minutes. Then the classes proceeded normally. The students and staff all did a great job in adjusting to the new procedures.

Who knows what will happen as the semester proceeds. But it was a good start.

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on August 19, 2020 at 10:58 AM | Permalink


New studies, which show that many if not most patients who are not killed by COVID-19 nevertheless suffer lasting illnesses and other disabilities, indicate that universities which had students return to campus may face law suits for huge amounts of damages.

Many universities which decided to accept the risk of holding in-person classes this fall, and to have students return to crowded dormitories, fraternities, and sororities, may have assumed that the additional income from not having to discount tuition for on-line instruction, or from losing students who might opt out of on-line instruction - as well as money from dormitory rents, dining, and other campus fees - would more than cover any wrongful death actions because only a tiny percentage of students die as a result of exposure in what some have called a petri dish of infection and contagion second only to cruise ships.

But, as the Washington Post just reported, new medical studies could “utterly change the way we think about covid-19: not as a disease that kills a tiny percentage of patients, mostly the elderly or the obese, the hypertensive or diabetic, but one that attacks the heart in most of the people who get it, even if they don’t feel very sick. And maybe their lungs, kidneys or brains, too.”

Indeed, new medical studies suggest that, although the great majority of non-elderly adults who get COVID-19 do not die, many if not most do suffer lasting and often disabling injuries to their health.

Recent developments where several university had to retreat from a fall in-person beginning, the growing percentage of COVID-19 sufferers who are young and otherwise healthy, and the recognition that many if not most who survive will suffer from permanent and expensive medical problems, including disabling ones, suggests that perhaps more colleges should ask returning students to sign a document acknowledging the unavoidable risk of infection, and waiving any liability on behalf of the institution of higher education.

Posted by: LawProf John Banzhaf | Aug 19, 2020 4:12:02 PM

I'm wondering if those universities that are forced to make retreat-to-remote decisions might do it on a unit-level basis this time. Law schools (and other grad programs) have a different calculus, as our students don't live together in giant dorms, and are also probably less likely to attend large parties after being warned against doing so.

Posted by: Donald Caster | Aug 19, 2020 3:51:05 PM

I had a different experience, I could not hear the students behind the masks. Way too muffled.

Posted by: AnonProf | Aug 19, 2020 1:57:09 PM

Thank you for sharing this. About how many students do you have in each section? Is everyone in person, or do you have some students attending on Zoom?

Posted by: a non | Aug 19, 2020 1:19:33 PM

Good to hear the semester is starting off well. Best of luck.

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Aug 19, 2020 12:56:28 PM

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