Burgum, Baesler announce summer school, testing options


Gov. Doug Burgum and State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced Monday that beginning June 1, North Dakota schools will be allowed to host a number of activities, including summer school and college admissions testing.

Students will also be allowed back in school buildings from May 15 to May 30 to retrieve their belongings and bring back any equipment that should be returned.

Burgum said Monday he is amending a previous executive order that has barred students from using school facilities for in-person instruction, while allowing those facilities to be used for graduation ceremonies.

The changes will allow school facilities to host all of the activities listed below at the discretion of school superintendents, in consultation with their local school boards. Schools must comply with the Department of Public Instruction’s North Dakota K-12 Smart Restart Guidance. The guidance applies both to public and nonpublic schools.

The permitted activities are:

  1. Testing for college admission, scholarship eligibility, and career readiness certification (examples: ACT, ACT WorkKeys, GED) in districts with previous certification as testing sites. Students who are already registered should be given priority, along with those whose testing dates were disrupted and students who could not complete their testing because of the pandemic.
  2. Child care programs that are licensed by the Department of Human Services.
  3. Summer Student Center programs.
  4. Summer School classes.
  5. Extended School Year programs.
  6. 21st Century Community Learning Center programs.
  7. Head Start.

Burgum and Baesler said the changes do not preclude schools from offering summer instruction by distance learning, instead of face-to-face instruction in buildings.

The executive order’s reference to summer school classes includes driver’s education. Schools may determine how they want to deliver both the classroom instruction and “behind the wheel” elements of driver’s education while adhering to Section 4 of the NDDPI’s Smart Restart Guidance.

“Nothing in this order requires that a district open for summer and offer these programs, and nothing prohibits a school, with approval from the Department of Public Instruction, from offering summer school courses by distance learning,” Baesler said.

Baesler said more than 1,100 students have been waiting to take the ACT, ACT WorkKeys, or GED exams. Students are required to attain certain qualifying scores on the ACT or ACT WorkKeys to be eligible for state academic or career and technical education scholarships, which can be worth $6,000 to each student.

Burgum said the changes “might be called a soft opening of school facilities.” He noted that the programs that will be allowed serve about 20,000 students, or roughly one-sixth of the state’s K-12 student enrollment.

“This will help get us open for next fall, and it will ensure that students can receive education and some really important programs can keep going on through the summer,” the governor said.