Colleges and universities now have many policies and procedures in place as a precaution against an outbreak of COVID-19. 

The challenging part is that every school is handling this preparedness differently and enacting very different rules that range in restrictions.

One of the largest challenges for students during this era of COVID-19 safety measures is determining between what is a recommendation and what’s a true policy with disciplinary repercussions if they don’t comply.

As rules and recommendations roll out throughout the school year, clear communication is also imperative, and yet some colleges are not doing enough to communicate policies.

What students need to know during these constantly changing times is that if they’ve been charged with a school violation and are at risk for dismissal or academic misconduct in some way, DC Student Defense can help.

Types of COVID-19 Policies

Because there isn’t a standard approach to handling special student codes of conduct, each university is handling the situation differently. 

Here’s a look at some of the ways schools are communicating and enforcing these COVID-19 policies.

  • Requiring students to sign a COVID-19 Code of Conduct and enforcing strict penalties for violations.
  • Adding COVID-19 precautions to the main Student Code of Conduct and looking to each student to enforce such policies through peer pressure.
  • Prohibiting parties both on and off-campus and overnight guests within dorm rooms.
  • Requiring mask-wearing and social distancing with strict enforcement and severe repercussions for students who violate these rules.
  • CATCH-ALL: remember most school codes have a catch-all provision that references violations of any other city, state and federal rules so that means that if your state has a particular order about masks or social distancing then your school may punish you for violating those orders even if you didn’t know about them!

Another challenge for students is that these rules are constantly changing. The schools can hardly keep up with documenting the new rules, which is why it’s extremely important for students to do their best to stay up-to-date.

Are My School’s Rules Enforceable?

With so many new rules to learn and large inconveniences for student life, some students choose to avoid dealing with these rules and instead assume that the school could never enforce such regulations.

But this could be a dangerous mindset. 

You’ll need to find out whether or not your school can enforce COVID-19 measures. Try looking into the factors surrounding the implementation of such guidelines to know whether they are enforceable or not. 

These factors could include:

  • Whether your school is public or private
  • If the guidelines were in the Code of Conduct or a behavioral contract with the school
  • The school’s stance on the policies applying to on and off-campus activity

For the most part, off-campus behavior is very difficult for a college or university to enforce. And many public universities have no jurisdiction with students once they leave campus.

Defenses for COVID-19 Rule Violations

Facing penalties for failing to comply with COVID-19 rules and regulations at your school is nerve-wracking. If your school is trying to ban you from campus or discipline you in some way, you might be able to use one of the following defenses:

  • You did not break the rules
  • The COVID-19 rules were outside the school’s jurisdiction
  • Your school’s rules and regulations are unenforceable because of state or municipal laws

Typically, public universities seem to have more strict restrictions on the rules they can pass and enforce. 

But no matter whether you attend a public or private school, it’s imperative that you do not try to defend yourself on your own if you’re facing COVID-19 rule violation penalties. 

Some universities are using expulsion as a punishment for non-compliance with COVID-19 rules. With so much riding on your defense, it’s too risky to try and defend yourself during formal meetings and hearings at your university.

Instead, you should seek legal advice from an experienced student defense attorney.

Hiring a Student Defense Attorney

Schedule a free consultation with DC Student Defense before you discuss the matter with school officials. Even if you think you’re speaking off the record, you might later discover those words can be used against you. It’s best to bring in an experienced advisor to help you navigate the disciplinary proceedings and protect your good name at your school.