Do School Staff Have a Duty of Care

Written by Terri Brinston
July 13, 2023
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I am so proud of my two sons. Just the thought of them instantly brings a smile to my face. I feel all warm inside as I remember how scared I was when I brought my firstborn home. I was terrified that I would not know what to do with this precious gift. I remember rocking him and crying as I asked the Lord to please help me do right in this new life. I stressed over everything from the type of food I fed him to the diapers he wore. I was very protective. I remember their first day of school. I promise it was the hardest day of my life. I was that crazy parent who called the school just to see how they were doing throughout the day. Yes, I love my boys, I would have done anything for them. Although they are no longer babies, they have grown into amazing young men (24 and 22), I am still a protective mom. 

Most parents are very protective, and when we send our children to school, we are entrusting the school staff
with our most prized possessions. I shudder to think the hell someone would have paid if my children were not properly cared for. I am sure I am not alone.

Teacher Responsibilities
Toward Student Health and
Safety

When I became a teacher, I got to see the other side of things. I was able to truly understand the amount of stress that comes with being that “parent” to someone’s child. In a school setting, teachers duty of care obligation to students is a foregone conclusion that is summarized in the legal doctrine of “In Loco Parentis,” which means, “in the place of the parents.” This legal theory has historically been used to justify the power and authority that school officials have over students. Teachers must anticipate foreseeable dangers to students and to take steps to minimize those dangers. Specifically, a teacher’s duties always include the following broad elements:

• Adequate student supervision

• Responsibility to report the need for maintenance of equipment and facilities
• Heightened supervision of high-risk activities
• Looking after the wellbeing of students with special needs

In most negligence cases brought against teachers, the duty element is easily proven. Negligence is determined When teachers fail to exercise a standard of reasonable care, and, therefore, breach their duty to protect the well-being of students. In a lawsuit, courts may judge a teacher’s conduct based on how a reasonable teacher would have acted under similar circumstances.

Steps Administrators Can Take to Reinforce TeachersDuty of Care

Teachers and school staff have a Duty of Care. Meaning they must provide care.

This is why it is so important that administrators do their due diligence and make sure their teachers are equipped with the skills necessary to properly support their students needs. It takes a special person to be an educator today. Most teachers have a natural nurturing spirit, but school leaders must continuously train teachers on how to respond to safety and medical issues and reinforce the concepts of duty of care. Consider adding this as an agenda item to your first teacher PD of the school year, and school improvement plan, and encourage your district’s health and safety advisory committee to visit this objective often. 

Consider training teachers how to:

Report signs of neglect and abuse
Report faulty equipment

Manage communicable diseases

Get someone to cover your class when you are running late or need to leave

Identify students medical disorders and support them during a crisis

You are not alone. We can help you develop and deliver a comprehensive medical training policy that provides teachers with the confidence and skills they need to fulfill their duty of care obligations. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more.

1. First Responders on the Sidelines

Coaches are not just play-callers; they are the first responders on the sidelines. Whether it’s a sprained ankle, a collision on the field, or a more severe medical emergency, having coaches certified in CPR and First Aid ensures that immediate care can be administered while awaiting professional medical assistance. Quick and appropriate actions can be the difference between a quick recovery and a more serious outcome.

2. Building Trust and Confidence

Athletes look up to their coaches not only for guidance in the game but also for assurance and trust in their well-being. Coaches certified in CPR and First Aid demonstrate a commitment to the holistic development of their athletes. This certification instills confidence in both players and their parents, knowing that their well-being is a top priority for the coaching staff

3. Handling Unforeseen Challenges

In the unpredictable world of sports, injuries and medical emergencies can happen at any time. Coaches equipped with CPR and First Aid certification possess the skills to handle unforeseen challenges calmly and effectively. From administering CPR to managing minor injuries, their training ensures a rapid and competent response in high-pressure situations.

4. Meeting Regulatory Standards

Many sports organizations and governing bodies, such as state athletic associations, now require coaches to be certified in CPR and First Aid. Compliance with these standards not only safeguards athletes but also ensures that coaching staff meets the necessary qualifications to guide and lead teams. Being proactive in obtaining certifications reflects a commitment to professionalism and safety.

5. Preparedness for Life Beyond the Field

CPR and First Aid skills extend beyond the sports arena. Coaches equipped with these life-saving skills become valuable assets in their communities. Whether at school, in public spaces, or even at home, the ability to respond effectively to emergencies enriches the coach’s role beyond the game, fostering a sense of responsibility and community engagement.

Conclusion: Elevating Coaching Beyond the Game

In conclusion, the benefits of coaches being certified in CPR and First Aid extend far beyond the realm of sports. It’s a commitment to the well-being of athletes, a demonstration of preparedness in the face of unforeseen challenges, and a contribution to the broader community. As the coaching landscape evolves, the role of a coach as a guardian of safety becomes increasingly pivotal. Invest in the safety and holistic development of your team by ensuring your coaching staff is CPR and First Aid certified—it’s a decision that impacts lives both on and off the field.

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