My School Contacted Me About a COVID Violation: Now What?
What to do if accused by your University or school of breaking COVID protocol.
IntroAs of the writing of this article there have been an estimated 8.5 million COVID-19 cases and 223,000 tragic deaths across the country. Early analysis wrongfully concluded that those under the age of 30 would be largely unaffected, but trends in college campuses across the nation have proven that wrong. Over 214,000 cases at over 1,600 universities have been traced to date. Colleges and Universities are adopting varying approaches on how to handle and halt the spread of Coronavirus, most are requiring some kind of action on the part of students. All rules on a college campus – no matter how noble their aim – carry the chance of ramifications for individual students if they are not followed.
Student Conduct ViolationJust like the varied responses to coronavirus, universities have widely varying procedures when it comes to the issue of student conduct. Here in Tallahassee, Florida State University and Florida A&M University have completely separate sets of conduct bodies with their own rules, procedures and structure. In almost all circumstances, a school may not levy substantial punishments based on conduct without first affording you a hearing. These hearings may appear similar to a trial at first glance, but they are almost designed to strip the accused of nearly all the rights a similar criminal proceeding would provide. Sometimes chance of success without an attorney is lower at a student conduct hearing when compared to a criminal courtroom.
Regardless of your school’s specific hearing procedures, any time there is a threat of suspension, expulsion or another other serious sanction, it’s important to consider contacting a criminal defense attorney who specializes in student conduct hearings. The student defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law can guide you through the process and give you the best shot at avoiding those types of ramifications. Allegations resulting from COVID regulations are no exception.
COVID GuidelinesTurning again to Florida State University as an example, a set of guidelines has been promulgated, but they are not necessarily the clearest to follow. The university has dictated that “from this point forward, for any student who tests positive and is ordered to isolate: Socializing outside of your residence, working out at the Leach Center or engaging in activities such as going to parties may result in your suspension from Florida State University for a minimum of one academic semester.”
This guideline is very clear on what the ramifications are, but it is extremely hard to discern exactly what the meaning of this rule is. The CDC currently recommends a 14-day quarantine upon a positive test. Some studies suggest that contact is safe after a 10-day quarantine. It is unclear exactly how long a person needs to quarantine after a positive test to avoid risking suspension at Florida State University. Students could potentially face suspension without the clear knowledge of how they violated the guidelines.
The University has special guidelines for football game attendance, stricter than all other activities at the university. A negative school-sponsored test is required for the ticket lottery, but there’s nothing accounting for individuals who receive a positive test after that one and still attend. There are also no listed ramifications for those who do not wear masks, sit in the designated seats, or ignore any of the other rules.
Defense Lawyer in Tallahassee, FloridaUniversities are stepping up to protect students from spread of COVID-19, and they seem to be doing their best. The unfortunate reality is that it is very likely that students – rightly or wrongly – will be accused of violating guidelines and face life-altering consequences. It is very important to speak to a qualified student defense attorney if accused. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of experience representing students in conduct cases. They are dedicated to defending the rights of clients in any circumstance and will fight for the best possible result. Call a Tallahassee Assault Attorney today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today to discuss your rights during an open and free consultation with a domestic violence attorney in our legal team.