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Office of General Counsel

Office of General Counsel
Kansas State University
111 Anderson Hall
919 Mid-Campus Drive North
Manhattan, KS  66506

785-532-5730
785-532-5603 fax
attys@k-state.edu

COVID-19 Legal-Related FAQs and Resources

Many answers to legal related questions and resources are below. Please also review the university's COVID-19 website, which is compiling all general university guidance.

1. How can I contact the Office of General Counsel during the remote work period?

 

The Office is fully functioning in a remote capacity. You should email attys@ksu.edu, or if you are already working with an attorney on a matter, you can email the attorney directly. The telephone calls are forwarded to a voicemail, and they will be periodically checked throughout the day. We will respond as soon as we can. Please also let us know of any recurring issues or common questions so we also can address those in these FAQs.

 

2. What steps do I need to take to protect the confidentiality of my written attorney-client communications during the remote work period?

 

• Email attorneys through the K-State email system. Do not use your personal email.
• Do not forward confidential communications to third parties or "cc" third parties when responding to those communications.
• The attorney-client privilege arises only when a client is seeking or receiving legal advice. Merely copying an attorney on a message to someone else will not make the message privileged.
• Keep attorney-client confidential and privileged documents separate from the rest of a file. If the file is electronic, create a separate folder or path.
• Do not download confidential documents and/or save them outside the K-State system, such as to a hard drive or a personal computer. Instead, use OneDrive, VPNs, and other methods to maintain the documents on the K-State system.
• Remove all devices from your work area that listen in on communications to respond to prompts.
• Avoid having verbal conversations that are meant to be confidential and privileged in front of other persons.
• Mark communications where you are seeking or receiving legal advice as "ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGED."
• Mark documents as "ATTORNEY WORK PRODUCT" when they are created at the request of an attorney.

*See also our standing FAQ #3.

 

 3. I need an urgent review of a contract related to the University's response to COVID-19. What should I do?

 

Please complete the items in the OGC Contract Review Checklist and note any issues specific to these circumstances. Please email the checklist and the contract documents to attys@ksu.edu. Please note "COVID-19-Related Contract Review" in the subject line.

 

4. What do I need to do to cancel a contract?

 

• Review the contract for the termination clauses.
• Review the contract to see if there is a "force majeure" clause, sometimes referenced in contracts as terminating for an "Act of God."
• Highlight those clauses.
• If the contract provides instructions on how the termination must occur, draft a notice of termination based on those clauses. Send the draft notice, along with the underlying contract, to attys@ksu.edu for review and assistance with necessary language and form. When you email it, please indicate the reasons for the need to cancel (e.g., COVID-19-related restrictions).

 

5. What are the rules for copyright when uploading class materials?

 

The Library has resource information here and here related to using course materials in an online environment. Our Office also is available to advise on specific questions about copyright law.

Persons are allowed to use copyrighted materials without permission under the principle of fair use. Whether a particular use is "fair use" depends on several factors. Some ways to make fair use of materials while minimizing the use needed include:

• Limiting access to materials only to students and instructors in a course.
• Using the materials only for the period of time that is necessary under the circumstances, and then
• Removing access to the materials.
• Using only those portions of the materials that are necessary for instruction.

You can also link to materials, use public domain content, use materials licensed by the University for the particular use, use the Creative Commons License, and/or display materials without the ability to download in accordance with the TEACH Act. There is more information about each of these at the above Library resource site.

 

6. Where do I go with questions about making materials accessible for students as I transition a course to online?

 

The Student Access Center is the University point office for making accommodations for students with disabilities. This includes when materials need to be provided in a different format.

 

7. For meetings required to be open under the Kansas Open Meetings Act, such as University senate or senate subcommittee meetings, how can I conduct those via remote access while staying in compliance with open meetings requirements? What do I need to consider?

 

In addition to in-person meetings, the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) allows for the possibility that meetings take place using "any other medium for interactive communication." This can include conference calls, web conferencing, or any other such media. Members of the public must be able to observe the discussion.

The same basic requirements apply to meetings in any format, including notice requirements, the voting process, and the process for conducting executive sessions. The Kansas Attorney General’s office has adopted a regulation containing additional requirements for conducting open meetings during an emergency declaration. The regulation, along with other KOMA resources, can be found at https://ag.ks.gov/open-government.See also our Open Meetings Guidelines.

 

 

8. Can we discuss the business of an open meeting with the group via email or password protected website?

 

No. The Kansas Open Meetings Act requires that discussions regarding state business between a majority of the membership of a body occur in the open. Business of meetings that ordinarily are required to be open should not be conducted by email or otherwise outside of an open meeting.

 

9. What do I do if someone asks for records related to the University's COVID-19 response?

 

All requests for public records of the University should be directed to designated records custodians pursuant to PPM 3060.

 

10. A faculty or staff member asked for permission to consult during this limited and remote operations period. What are my next steps as the supervisor?

 

Any employee wanting to consult for an external entity or engage in other outside professional activity must submit a Consulting Request Form. The University generally encourages consulting activity if it is related to the employee’s area of professional expertise and as long as the activities do not interfere with the effective discharge of University responsibilities. Approval is not guaranteed. Supervisors should only approve consulting activity that:

(a)    further develops the faculty member or unclassified professional in a professional sense or serves the community, state, or nation in an area related to the faculty or unclassified professional member’s professional expertise;

(b)    does not interfere with the faculty or unclassified professional member’s teaching, research and service to the University; and

(c)    is consistent with the objectives of the University.

See Appendix S, section B and University Handbook Section D40.

Supervisors should evaluate the consulting activity based on the factors above and determine whether and to what extent to approve the activity. Please keep in mind that the University does not control, nor is it responsible for, an employee’s outside activities. It is for each employee to assess risks posed by their own personal travel and other activities, including consulting activities. For consulting and all other personal travel or outside activities, employees should be mindful of how those personal activities may impact their ability to fulfill their University duties during and/or after that personal activity; employees should consider, for example, potential travel restrictions and quarantine and isolation recommendations and requirements. Employees are still responsible for fulfilling their University duties.

 

11. An outside entity has asked my unit for help responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. What legal issues should I consider?

 

Please direct any requests for the University to assist other entities to the University Risk and Compliance Officer at ecyoung@ksu.edu. There are several considerations to work through before agreeing to assist outside the University, such as insurance, contracts, and whether the University has the general authority and capacity to fulfill the request for assistance.