Thompson superintendent asks students to empty lockers for cleaning

The superintendent of Thompson (N.D.) Public Schools is asking students, or their parents, to come to school Wednesday, March 18, and remove items from their lockers so custodial staff can do a thorough cleaning in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

The school will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for emptying personal and locker-room lockers, said Superintendent John Maus.

With those extended hours, “we’re hoping to avoid big crowds and make sure it’s in and out; we hope to make it a quick process” and that no groups of people gather, as recommended by the CDC, he said.

Students also may check out Chromebook computers at the school’s front door that day just in case Gov. Doug Burgum extends school closure, in effect this week, and the school needs to use distance learning technology beginning Monday, March 23, Maus said.

Because of the timing of Burgum’s order to close North Dakota K-12 schools from Monday through Friday, March 16-20, many students left such items as snow pants, boots, shoes and sweatshirts in their lockers, said Maus, who heads a school district of 573 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.


During the closure, classrooms have been disinfected, he said.

“Cleaning lockers will be Thursday’s project," he said.

Concerned about educational equity, he and other educators conducted a Chromebook survey of Thompson students to determine “who needs them and who doesn’t,” Maus said.

Hard-copy packets of assignments also will be available, if distance learning is required, he said.

“We want students to have a fair opportunity to do assignments and get work done," said Maus, adding that this type of disruption presents “unknown” territory for schools. “We have to be prepared for (further) closure. It’s a pretty fluid situation.”

Maus and other educators are hoping to learn by Friday, March 20, if Burgum intends to extend the school closure past March 20, he said.


Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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