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STOCKTON–At its Monday, Nov. 16 meeting, the Stockton School Board heard a plea from head girls basketball coach Tim Timpe, who also serves as the school’s insurance representative, about the need for students to participate in basketball this season.
“I know a possible lawsuit is on every school district’s mind,” said Timpe. “Regarding the negligence of the school, approval by IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health), ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) or even the governor bears no weight on whether a claim will be covered or paid. Liability claims are solely based on the negligence in whether a claim has any sort of merit which warrants payment or defense.”
Timpe said he gave Superintendent James Bunting the official stance from Liberty Mutual.
“Although it is vague, it does not state that COVID or any other disease contracted in a school setting is excluded,” said Timpe. “No insurance company is going to say that every COVID is covered because they are all different like any other claim. Negligence has to be proved.”
Timpe said that 900 schools are insured by Liberty Mutual and 300 in this region, which includes Chicago.
“Since March, there have been four claims in our region related to COVID submitted to schools. Three of them are baseless,” said Timpe. “One claim was paid to a special education child and they did pay their medical bills.”
Timpe said the company has seen more claims arise with schools and IHSA denying students scholarship opportunities than they have for COVID.
Timpe mentioned his daughter played all summer and there had been no COVID outbreaks associated with those games.
“As a coach, I will do whatever is required to keep the kids safe,” said Timpe. “As a parent, I will do the same while my kid is off the court. Show these kids you care for their overall well-being, not just for them contracting COVID. You could give them some peace of mind, especially these seniors that had everything ripped from them. They need to have confidence that their school is behind them. Show your support for our kids; someone has to fight for them. Let them play.”
Bunting said that he also reached out to Liberty Mutual as a follow-up. He noted that the information states to follow federal and state guidance and whether to have sports or not.
“That is the response I would expect if I was Liberty Mutual to give anybody in that case,” said Bunting.
Bunting asked others about coverage and thought it would be a good idea to have another set of eyes look at it to ensure there is nothing in their policy that states that Liberty Mutual wouldn’t have to cover the district.
“I know you said that earlier, but I just want to make sure,” said Bunting.
Bunting noted that the Liberty Mutual website said to contact legal counsel about adding a COVID-19 clause for events and participation agreements.
The school board received a letter from Tiana Timpe as captain of the girls basketball team. The board thanked her for the well-written letter.
“I appreciate it when students step up in a professional way to support something that they are passionate about for their team,” said Bunting.
The board also:
•approved the tentative 2021 tax levy.
•approved a $1,200 water main leak repair at the high school.
•approved the 2021-2022 curriculum guides for the high school.