Grand Forks School District administrators will adjust the matrix that guides decisions regarding classroom or building closures, Superintendent Terry Brenner told the Grand Forks School Board at its meeting Monday, Oct. 26.

Brenner said his administrative team also will review the health and safety plan that was required last summer of every school district by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

Brenner expects revisions to these documents will be finalized this week, he said.

“We need to nuance what ‘severe risk’ means in our schools,” said Shannon Mikula, board member. “Transparency is very important.”

Changes in the matrix and the health and safety plan are appropriate “because we know more (about COVID-19) than we did in August,” said Eric Lunn, board vice president.

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Jackie Hoffarth, a board member, requested that attention be given to making the athletic plan “more strict,” because she has noticed a lack of adherence to safety protocol at sporting events, she said.

Brenner also plans to release more numbers regarding students and staff members affected by coronavirus. The school district has fielded some criticism for withholding information of this type, an action Brenner has said was based on his non-disclosure agreement with the state.

In other action, the board heard a report on parent surveys from Jody Thompson, associate superintendent of elementary education. He said the district should be able to accommodate the 132 elementary students who wish to return to face-to-face learning when the next trimester begins Nov. 23.

He expects to inform parents about student placement during the week of Nov. 9, he said, adding that the in-coming students are spread over 11 school campuses.

Of the elementary school students who started the year in face-to-face learning, 23 wish to begin learning remotely in the next trimester, Thompson said. At the secondary level, 62 of 343 middle school students will be returning to in-person learning when the next semester begins, Jan. 15, said Catherine Gillach, assistant superintendent of secondary education. A total of 15 of 330 high school students who have been learning remotely wish to return to face-to-face learning in the next semester, she said.

She and other school administrators “are looking at how many students can safely come in (to the buildings) without violating some of our (safety) practices.”