Letter to the Editor – Megan Dahle fights for insurance companies instead of families

My wife recently got an email from Assemblywoman Megan Dahle pushing to get AB 1384 passed. It would exempt schools from all COVID-19 liability. Her email also touts how safe school openings are.

AB 1348 directly affects my family — my wife is a teacher and my child is entering kindergarten. I want them to be in school this year but I want to know school is a safe place for them.

This issue exists because insurance companies have refused to cover COVID liability. Instead of working on legislation requiring insurance companies to take responsibility for COVID, as is their job, Megan thinks we should absolve schools of all liability and make children, families, and teachers pay instead.

I’m sure that administrators and school boards have good intentions toward students and teachers. But when good intentions fail to become good actions, there must be consequences. By removing all liability from schools for COVID-19 transmission, it removes an incentive for schools to take reasonable precautions. Reasonable precautions like smaller class sizes, keeping kids in groups and limiting their interaction with other kids, checking temperatures and watching for signs of illness, removing kids or teachers from classrooms if they have been exposed to COVID-19. AB 1384 removes the legal consequence if schools ignore reasonable protections for kids and teachers.

Megan points to CDC guidance that encourages opening schools. Guidance crafted by the Trump administration to promote in-person education to the maximum extent possible. However, that guidance says, “The best available evidence from countries that have opened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children, at least in areas with low community transmission.” Most of the north state that Megan represents has significant community transmission.

The guidance also says, “…the rate of infection among younger school children, and from students to teachers, has been low, especially if proper precautions are followed.”

Yet Megan is pushing legislation that would effectively exempt schools from following those precautions.

Imagine if your child came home sick and had to be hospitalized. You learn that three other children in her class of 30 had tested positive for COVID the prior week and the school did nothing. What if one of those children shared a desk with your child? Would you want the school to get a free pass for that? How much would that hospital stay cost you?

Who is your child’s favorite teacher? Think of that person. Now imagine if that teacher got COVID from a mask-free student who was coughing and sneezing for days in a closed-up classroom. Then that teacher dies. You, as a parent or as the family of that fallen teacher, will never have your day in court to confront the reckless school district that helped cause that harm.

The right solution is to make insurance companies cover COVID liability. Instead of making insurance companies responsible, Megan wants to make children and teachers pay for any poor choices school districts might make.

According to Followthemoney.org, Megan has taken over $45,000 from the finance and insurance industry. Perhaps that’s why she is fighting so hard for AB 1384 instead of fighting to keep schools safe?

Megan and Republicans’ efforts to remove all liability from schools is unacceptable. The fact that Megan is willing to let schools do anything they want, so long as they open, is shameful. AB 1384 will insure that some teachers die and that some students get hospitalized.

When my wife goes back into the classroom to teach and my son goes in to learn, I want the schools to be legally required to protect their safety.

Ed McCarthy