“It’s this or no job…”
Some S.C. teachers working at private Catholic schools returning to in-person instruction this month must sign COVID-19 liability waivers, or face losing their jobs, according to documents and internal communications obtained by The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette.
By signing the agreements, teachers and staff members acknowledge they “may be exposed or infected by COVID-19 by attending and/or working at school … and that such exposure or infection may result in serious illness or, in rare cases, even death.”
Although a legal expert says the waivers may not hold up in court, teachers who sign agree to “absolutely release, defend, indemnify, and hold harmless” the schools and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, including “any claims of negligent exposure,” according to the agreements.
An internal email from an administrator at one Lowcountry Catholic school reviewed by the newspapers refers to signing the Diocese waiver as a condition of employment.
While parents may elect to have their children learn virtually, teachers at two separate Diocese-affiliated schools in the Lowcountry said there was no option to teach remotely, even in cases involving ongoing health conditions.
“It’s this, or no job,” said one of the teachers, who works at a Beaufort County Catholic school and asked to remain anonymous for fear of professional repercussions.