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Judge dismisses Yale student’s virtual learning lawsuit

July 8, 2021 GMT

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a Yale University student’s attempt to sue the university for partial compensation for virtual online learning during the height of the pandemic last year.

The Yale undergraduate student Jonathan Michel filed a class-action lawsuit against the university for the full tuition payment he and other students made to the school in the spring 2020 semester before the pandemic forced universities across the country to switch to remote virtual learning, the Hartford Courant reported Thursday.

The judge dismissed the suit because the school is protected from giving tuition reimbursements due to regulations that give it approval to close programs and not issue refunds during a “public health or security concerns.”

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Michel argued in his lawsuit that Yale closed its campus and facilities for the rest of the spring but also made spelled out promises to students about being a part of an on-campus community and have access to the school’s facilities, the newspaper reported.

This lawsuit is one of hundreds filed across the country by students or their parents attempting to reclaim tuition payments during the pandemic.

The suits argue that when the students made full tuition payments, they signed up for a full-time, on-campus experience.

In many cases, the courts have sided with the schools because of educational malpractice, which says courts are not equipped to issue decisions on whether online education is inferior to in-person learning.

Others have ruled in favor of the students, ignoring the benefits of in-person and online person and concluding students paid for in-person learning and they didn’t receive it during the pandemic.

The judge said that it was not necessary to weigh the benefits of online and in-person learning at Yale because its regulations warn students of program suspensions and refunds.