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Vermilion Parish School Board reinstates Foreign Exchange Student Program

School Board learns they’re not liable if student gets coronavirus

After voting against allowing foreign exchange students to study in Vermilion Parish last month, the school board had a change of heart after learning they could not be held accountable if anything would happen to the foreign exchange student if he or she catches COVID-19.
The school board decided to get a legal opinion from school board attorney Bob Hammond on if the school board would be responsible for the student if he or she gets sick.
Hammond told the board he reviewed the document the student has to have signed, which is provided by the company that oversees the foreign exchange students. Hammond recommended a couple of lines be added in the document, and the company agreed to make those changes.
However, before the school board voted again, school board member Laura LeBeouf informed the board members that the regional office of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) recommended that no foreign exchange students be allowed in Louisiana.
School Board attorney, Justin Merritt, informed the board that DHH was worried about how would a foreign exchange student get home if there would be a travel ban or who would care for the foreign exchange student if the host family contracted COVID-19.
“That is not the school board’s responsibility,” said school board member Chris Gautreaux.
School board member Kristy Hebert said Lafayette Parish and Iberia Parish are allowing foreign exchange students.
Hebert said the child would be tested before he or she arrives.
“They are no more of a liability than my kid going to school or your kid going to school,” said Hebert.
Lee Wood and his family had plans to be a host family for the upcoming school year. He is one of four host families who has foreign exchange students selected. The students will arrive at least 14 days before the start of school.
Wood explained to the board that if the child would get sick or the host family would get sick, then the company that brought the international student to Louisiana is responsible for the child. It would not fall on the school board, he added.
After learning that the school board would not be responsible for the foreign exchange student, the school board voted to allow only the four international students who had already made plans to attend school in Vermilion Parish.

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