No changes to school calendar due to lost instruction days after Burgum's North Dakota closure order
School districts slated to launch online learning programs on Wednesday, April 1.
Despite missing nine days of school in March after North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum closed schools statewide, Grand Forks students in kindergarten through 12th grade will not have to continue past the instructional days listed on the school district’s calendar.
“There are no calendar changes at this time,” said Amber Flynn, vice president of the Grand Forks School Board.
Flynn and other school board leaders across the state participated in a conference call with state Superintendent Kirsten Baesler, Amy Copas, representing the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders, and a member of the governor’s staff last week.
Burgum waived those lost school days, which were March 16-31. In Grand Forks, the timeframe included three days already scheduled for spring break. He asked school districts to prepare distance learning plans which were to be submitted by Friday, March 27, for review by the state’s Department of Public Instruction.
During the recent conference call, some school board presidents expressed concern about receiving state aid payments, which are provided incrementally to school districts, Flynn said.
The payments would not be interrupted if the school district submitted its distance learning plan by the March 27 deadline and the plan was approved by DPI, Flynn said.
The Grand Forks Public Schools plan was submitted on time and has been approved. It is posted on the school district’s website.
Burgum issued an order calling for distance learning to begin Wednesday, April 1, in North Dakota.
His decision to close schools was made in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus and expand the state’s health care system’s COVID-19 testing and treatment capacity.
School district calendars are set at the local level, Flynn said. For example, leaders of individual districts in North Dakota can choose to start school before or after Labor Day, but each district must meet instruction requirements, which were switched from a specific number of days to hours by state legislators in the 2019 session.
Among the Grand Forks School Board members, no decisions have been made concerning high school graduation, scheduled for May 31, but Flynn said she assumed it has been discussed by school district administrators.
“Eight weeks down the road is, for some people, too far out,” she said, adding that the situation changes rapidly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. “We’ve seen how crazy things can get in only a week.”