Burgum, Baesler issue K-12 guidance, advance school plans for fall


North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced Tuesday updated guidance for K-12 education, paving the way for a hopeful start to school this fall. Schools will have the opportunity to meet in person, by distance learning or a hybrid, or mix, of both distance and in-person learning.

On March 15 of this year, Burgum closed schools due to COVID-19. Come this fall, students will begin seeing education start in the building—with a dual purpose. This year, Burgum says, the state will have a dual mission of education and public health.

“We have a responsibility to the students and to the taxpayers,” he says.

But this year is going to be “much more of a challenge.”

Several guiding principles are guiding school districts this year, including the fact that every student will have the opportunity to engage in a full year of learning, irrespective of the spread of COVID19 in a community.

School boards will play a vital role as this unprecedented event unfolds. With the situation changing daily, good policies and best practices are as important as ever and the public is looking to their school district leadership teams to provide a unified message to employees, parents, students and the general public. Each facility will work with the health professionals and local public health units to respond to the local conditions.

Among the requirements of districts will be health and safety plans, along with distance learning plans. The health and safety plans must be building level plans, Burgum says.

The K-12 Smart Restart has adopted the color-coded guidance in the ND Smart Restart Plan. This plan

 reopening into five phases: red, orange, yellow, green and blue. These designations signal how restrictions on school, work, congregate settings and social interactions will ease in each county.

A common theme among educational leaders continues to be local control and flexibility.

“This takes a community approach to reopen schools,” Baesler says.

The state is not planning any statewide shutdown, she says.

While all of the answers are not known yet, it is a beginning.

“Today’s guidance begins our next step in this journey,” Baesler says.

To check out the full guidance, click this link: https://www.nd.gov/dpi/sites/www/files/documents/Covid-19/NDK12restartguide.pdf