Parents of young students in Grand Forks schools will have to decide if they’re happy with their students’ learning format or want to change – and they’ll have to stay with that format for the rest of the school year, according to information presented at the Grand Forks School Board meeting on Monday, Oct. 12.

The district sent a survey to parents of pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students Monday to determine whether they wish to continue the distance learning format they chose for the start of the school year or have their child return to in-person learning. Responses are due Friday, Oct. 16.

This is the first in a series of parent surveys on this question.

Whatever learning format parents choose in the surveys they receive in the coming weeks, they will have to abide by the choice for the rest of the year, according to Jody Thompson, associate superintendent of elementary education. “It is too disruptive to (make changes) two more times for elementary and one more time for high school," he said.

Administrators are uncertain about how many families will decide to return to face-to-face learning, Thompson said. “It’s hard to tell, but we want to be ready to plan for all of them to return.”

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That planning, he has told the board, may involve using space beyond the schools’ properties, because of social distancing guidelines.

“Some parents are happy with the routine of distance learning at home, and we’ve worked out the kinks of distance learning. It’ll be interesting to see what the (survey) results are," he said.

Slight enrollment decrease

Enrollment in the district has dropped 46 students – from 7,459 to 7,413 – this fall compared to last fall, according to a report presented at Monday's meeting.

Elementary school enrollment represented the largest decrease, 101 students, which was offset by an increase of 99 at the high school level, said Thompson. Middle school enrollment dropped by 44 students, he said.

The state uses these figures to gauge the amount of per-pupil aid the district receives, he said.

Families choosing to home school their students accounted for a portion of the decline, mostly affecting elementary school enrollment. Fifty-eight more elementary students, nine more middle school students, and 17 more high school students are being home schooled this year compared to last year, Thompson said.

The school district does not receive state per-pupil aid for students who are home schooled.