It’s that time again – back to school. But this year it’s going to be different. If your kids are learning at home or at a friend’s home this fall, you may have a liability risk on your hands.
Back to school is synonymous with buying school supplies, taking the annual school photo in the front yard and so many other traditions. But in Alberta this year, about 17 per cent of parents decided that online learning was the route to take for the first half of the year, amid the fear of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) still present in our province.
Some parents have turned to Facebook groups with Learning Pod or Homeschooling in the name to help cope with teaching at home. While homeschooling is different than online learning, parents are finding creative ways to make sure their kids are getting the best education during these uncertain times.
We can now add Pandemic Pods to the commonplace phrases we’ve used since March, including social distancing, The Rona, COVID bubble, Quaranteam, and Quarantine and Chill – to name just a few.
Specifically for learning at home, Pandemic Pods also called learning pods or micro-schools have taken off in popularity. While one meaning of a pod means several animals (such as whales) clustered together, pandemic pods are not far off: a group of kids that learn together. Some experts say the ideal size for a pod is five kids and the home rules include mask-wearing and washing hands. But it’s up to the household owners to enforce these rules, of course.
Pandemic POD Liability: What You Need to Know
But let’s get to the point of this blog. We all know learning together has many benefits for children, including social interaction and creative discussion. But not surprisingly, there are some concerns of mingling in the same space, namely spreading germs. And what are the implications of hosting a pod of kids together five days a week?
It’s essential to keep in mind that we don’t know everything yet about COVID-19 and every way it can spread. There is always a chance your pod could unwittingly spread the infectious disease around to family members and beyond.
But what does pod hosting mean in terms of your insurance? For a homeowner, you could be sued or held liable, but you would have to be found negligent. For example, you may be found liable if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. If you’re not aware, you’re not liable. Many situations can present themselves, including sending your kids to another house with symptoms, or accepting children into your home if you have symptoms or knowledge of COVID-19 contact.
If you’re not sure about your own situation, contact your broker or insurance company. Your insurer may have different rules around teaching kids at home than your friend’s insurer. When in doubt, it’s always best to call.
Tips to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 at Home
If you do plan on starting a pod of kids for the school year, or if you’ve started already, it’s prudent to follow precautions and to know what to expect if an outbreak occurs. Consult the Alberta Health Services link to the guidance on cohorts.
Whatever your choices for your children this year, be safe.