Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 03/21/2020

In Midst of COVID-19, Universities Must Remain Compliant with Clery Act

Of the many ways COVID-19 is impacting higher education institutions, colleges and universities must remain committed to compliance with the notice requirements under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act). The Clery Act requires every institution to immediately notify the campus community on confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation on the campus that involves an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees. The U.S. Department of Education’s Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting notes that a “serious illness” is an example of an immediate threat to the campus community. On March 13, 2020, the White House declared a national emergency for the COVID-19 outbreak. Thus, institutions should consider COVID-19 a “serious illness” that poses an immediate threat to their campus communities.

To this end, colleges and universities should work with medical experts in their communities to remain informed of guidance from the state and national level to help determine when to issue notifications for confirmed cases of COVID-19. Such notifications may include alerting the community when a student has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or even when a citizen in the institution’s city or county has a confirmed case of COVID-19. The notification should not personally identify any individuals but should state when and where the individual was last on campus. When institutions publish Clery Act notifications or other communications about COVID-19, they should use their existing policies and procedures for doing so.

The Clery Center has provided additional guidance here.

This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any questions about how to comply with your legal obligations under the Clery Act, please contact one of our Higher Education attorneys.

Please visit our COVID-19 Toolkit for all of Taft’s updates on the coronavirus.

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