Private schools in North Dakota also asked to submit distance learning plans to state

Kirsten Baesler in Dickinson speaks at the North Dakota GOP District 39 conference. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

Like their public counterparts, North Dakota’s private schools will be required to submit their innovative learning plans to the state, North Dakota Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said Monday, March 23.

Gov. Doug Burgum announced last week that school districts across the state would be required to send a plan laying out how each district will offer virtual or distance education to students while schools remain closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for the state’s nonpublic schools will not have to be approved by the governor, Baesler said Monday.

Schools have until Friday, March 27, to submit their plans and, once approved, must begin implementing them by Wednesday, April 1. State aid payments will not be released until the state approves the plans.

Baesler said as of Monday, 20 public schools have submitted their plans, as have five private schools.

Baesler has been holding daily phone briefings for educators and administrators across the state to update them about developments regarding education and the COVID-19 outbreak.


North Dakota has asked the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver from federally-mandated assessment tests for the rest of year. The state has already canceled its state-mandated tests for the rest of the year as school buildings remain closed indefinitely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These assessments do play a significant role in measuring the school's quality and accountability, and this decision was not taken lightly,” Baesler said. “Removing one year of testing sounds like an easy, simple fix in these times. But the waiving of student assessment eliminates important data that is used to strategically allocate significant, financial and human resources throughout our state’s schools.”

Baesler said that if the state carried out these assessments, they likely wouldn’t reflect accurate data and would place a “heavy psychological burden” on students and teachers.

Additionally, the ACT makeup date in April has been canceled until the summer. Those who were scheduled to take the test on April 4 will be able to receive a voucher to take the test in June. Baesler said most students had already taken the ACT in early March.

A call is planned for Tuesday morning for administrators and educators to ask the state questions regarding special education and individualized education programs.

Additional tools for educators and administrators can be found at .

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Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at or call her at 701-780-1134.
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