Florida Senate - 2021                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. SB 7070
       
       
       
       
       
       
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                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    Senate             .             House              
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       The Committee on Rules (Gruters) recommended the following:
       
    1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    2  
    3         Delete everything after the enacting clause
    4  and insert:
    5         Section 1. Paragraph (a) of subsection (5) of section
    6  464.019, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
    7         464.019 Approval of nursing education programs.—
    8         (5) ACCOUNTABILITY.—
    9         (a)1. An approved program must achieve a graduate passage
   10  rate for first-time test takers which is not more than 10
   11  percentage points lower than the average passage rate during the
   12  same calendar year for graduates of comparable degree programs
   13  who are United States educated, first-time test takers on the
   14  National Council of State Boards of Nursing Licensing
   15  Examination, as calculated by the contract testing service of
   16  the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. For purposes of
   17  this subparagraph, an approved program is comparable to all
   18  degree programs of the same program type from among the
   19  following program types:
   20         a. Professional nursing education programs that terminate
   21  in a bachelor’s degree.
   22         b. Professional nursing education programs that terminate
   23  in an associate degree.
   24         c. Professional nursing education programs that terminate
   25  in a diploma.
   26         d. Practical nursing education programs.
   27         2. If an approved program’s graduate passage rates do not
   28  equal or exceed the required passage rates for 2 consecutive
   29  calendar years, the board shall place the program on
   30  probationary status pursuant to chapter 120 and the program
   31  director shall appear before the board to present a plan for
   32  remediation, which shall include specific benchmarks to identify
   33  progress toward a graduate passage rate goal. The program must
   34  remain on probationary status until it achieves a graduate
   35  passage rate that equals or exceeds the required passage rate
   36  for any 1 calendar year. The board shall deny a program
   37  application for a new prelicensure nursing education program
   38  submitted by an educational institution if the institution has
   39  an existing program that is already on probationary status.
   40         3. Upon the program’s achievement of a graduate passage
   41  rate that equals or exceeds the required passage rate, the
   42  board, at its next regularly scheduled meeting following release
   43  of the program’s graduate passage rate by the National Council
   44  of State Boards of Nursing, shall remove the program’s
   45  probationary status. If the program, during the 2 calendar years
   46  following its placement on probationary status, does not achieve
   47  the required passage rate for any 1 calendar year, the board may
   48  extend the program’s probationary status for 1 additional year,
   49  provided the program has demonstrated adequate progress toward
   50  the graduate passage rate goal by meeting a majority of the
   51  benchmarks established in the remediation plan. If the program
   52  is not granted the 1-year extension or fails to achieve the
   53  required passage rate by the end of such extension, the board
   54  shall terminate the program pursuant to chapter 120. If a
   55  program on probationary status fails to achieve the required
   56  passage rate for the 2020 calendar year, including a program
   57  subject to termination during the 2021 calendar year, the board
   58  shall extend the program’s probationary status for 1 additional
   59  year. The board shall grant such extension at a regularly
   60  scheduled meeting during the 2021 calendar year.
   61         Section 2. Section 768.39, Florida Statutes, is created to
   62  read:
   63         768.39Immunity for educational institutions for actions
   64  related to the COVID-19 pandemic.—
   65         (1)The Legislature finds that during the COVID-19
   66  pandemic, educational institutions had little choice but to
   67  close or restrict access to their campuses in an effort to
   68  protect the health of their students, educators, staff, and
   69  communities. Despite these efforts, more than 120,000 cases of
   70  COVID-19 have been linked to colleges and universities
   71  nationwide, and the deaths of more than 100 college students
   72  have been attributed to the disease. The Legislature further
   73  finds that lawsuits against educational institutions based on
   74  their efforts to provide educational services while keeping
   75  students, faculty, staff, and communities safe during the COVID
   76  19 public health emergency are without legal precedent. One
   77  court has even acknowledged that the “legal system is now
   78  feeling COVID-19’s havoc with the current wave of class action
   79  lawsuits that seek tuition reimbursement related to forced
   80  online tutelage.” Under these circumstances, the Legislature
   81  finds that there is an overpowering public necessity for, and no
   82  reasonable alternative to, providing educational institutions
   83  with liability protections against lawsuits seeking tuition or
   84  fee reimbursements or related damages resulting from the
   85  institutions changing the delivery of educational services,
   86  limiting access to facilities, or closing campuses during the
   87  COVID-19 public health emergency.
   88         (2) For the purposes of this section, the term “educational
   89  institution” means a school, including a preschool, elementary
   90  school, middle school, junior high school, secondary school,
   91  career center, or postsecondary school, whether public or
   92  nonpublic, and also includes the Board of Governors of the State
   93  University System and the State Board of Education.
   94         (3)(a)An educational institution that has taken reasonably
   95  necessary actions in compliance with federal, state, or local
   96  guidance to diminish the impact or the spread of COVID-19 may
   97  not be held liable for, and shall be immune from, any civil
   98  damages, equitable relief, or other remedies relating to such
   99  actions. Reasonably necessary actions taken while a state of
  100  emergency was declared for this state for the COVID-19 pandemic
  101  include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
  102         1.Shifting in-person instruction to online or remote
  103  instruction for any period of time.
  104         2.Closing or modifying the provision of facilities, other
  105  than housing or dining facilities, on the campus of the
  106  educational institution.
  107         3.Pausing or modifying ancillary student activities and
  108  services available through the educational institution.
  109         (b)The provision of in-person or on-campus education and
  110  related services is deemed to have been impossible for
  111  educational institutions during any period of time in which such
  112  institutions took reasonably necessary actions described in
  113  paragraph (a) to protect students, staff, and educators in
  114  response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  115         (c) As a result of the various governmental orders and the
  116  need for educational institutions to protect their communities,
  117  the reasonably necessary actions described in paragraph (a) are
  118  deemed justified.
  119         (4) In any action against an educational institution for
  120  the reimbursement of tuition or fees, general publications of
  121  the institution are not evidence of an implied contract to
  122  provide in-person or on-campus education and related services or
  123  access to facilities during the COVID-19 public health
  124  emergency.
  125         (5)(a) This section does not apply to losses or damages
  126  that resulted solely from a breach of an express contractual
  127  provision allocating liability in the event of a pandemic event.
  128         (b) This section does not apply to losses or damages caused
  129  by an act or omission of a college or university which was in
  130  bad faith or malicious.
  131         (6)If any aspect of the immunity under subsection (3) is
  132  limited by a court or by operation of law from applying to
  133  certain types of claims or causes of action, the immunity under
  134  this section must still be provided to the fullest extent
  135  authorized by law to any other types of claims or causes of
  136  action.
  137         (7)If an educational institution is required by federal,
  138  state, or local order issued in response to the COVID-19 public
  139  health emergency to alter instruction, the burden of proof for
  140  any plaintiff bringing an action against the educational
  141  institution for such change shall be by clear and convincing
  142  evidence to prevail for damages against the institution.
  143         Section 3. This act is effective upon becoming a law.
  144  ================= T I T L E  A M E N D M E N T ================
  145  And the title is amended as follows:
  146         Delete everything before the enacting clause
  147  and insert:
  148                        A bill to be entitled                      
  149         An act relating to the impact of COVID-19 on
  150         educational institutions; amending s. 464.019, F.S.;
  151         requiring the Board of Nursing to extend an approved
  152         program’s probationary status under certain
  153         circumstances; creating s. 768.39, F.S.; providing
  154         legislative findings; defining the term “educational
  155         institution”; prohibiting an educational institution
  156         that has taken certain reasonably necessary actions to
  157         diminish the impact or spread of COVID-19 from being
  158         civilly liable for such actions; specifying that the
  159         provision of certain services by educational
  160         institutions was impossible during certain periods of
  161         time; providing that certain reasonably necessary
  162         actions are deemed justified; providing that general
  163         publications of educational institutions are not
  164         evidence of an implied contract to provide specified
  165         services during the COVID-19 public health emergency;
  166         providing exceptions; providing severability;
  167         specifying conditions for an action against an
  168         educational institution; providing an effective date.