CLICK HERE to download School Closure Process Toolkit – Guidance for school and district leaders to develop short-term and long-term plans during COVID-19 school closures
The following information is taken from the COVID-19 School Guidance page on the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction’s Updates and Guidance website.
Health officials are currently taking steps to prevent the introduction and spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) into communities across the United States. Schools will undoubtedly play an important role in this effort. Through collaboration and coordination with local health departments, schools can take steps to disseminate information about the disease and its potential transmission within their school community. Schools can prepare to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among their students and staff. The NDDPI has provided the following information to help answer any questions that may arise.
School Closure Q&A
On March 15, Gov. Doug Burgum and State Supt. Kirsten Baesler had a conference call with all superintendents. There was a 45-minute Q&A session that can be referenced online.
If you have additional questions, please email Kirsten Baesler.
Making Up School Hours
North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) 15.1-06-04. School calendar – Length, indicates that a school district shall provide for a school calendar that includes: At least 962.5 hours of instruction for elementary school students and 1,050 hours of instruction for middle and high school students.
If a school must close for an extended period because of a quarantine and should fall below the minimum hours, the following options are available:
- Making up the hours on planned Professional Development (PD) days, if the mandatory three PD days are already met;
- Making up school time on Saturdays;
- Extending the school day; or
- Extending the school year.
Many districts, parents, and guardians have expressed worry about student absences related to COVID-19 safety concerns. Many parents in North Dakota have begun to consider keeping their children home to protect their children from contracting COVID-19. Questions have arisen regarding if a parent can keep their child home for an extended period, and if there will be a consequence if they do. In these cases, parents have the ultimate decision-making authority regarding their children. School board members and administrators are encouraged to look at their current attendance and contagious disease policies and make the most logical and practical decision. NDDPI asks that districts keep student safety and wellbeing at the forefront when making any decision that impacts student learning. Districts should also review any student attendance incentive practice or procedure they have in place which might encourage a student to come to school when they are ill.
Assessment and Accountability
The USED has provided information to state education agencies that there may be flexibility for assessments and accountability as a result of COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis. Should the need arise, NDDPI will work with districts on adjustments related to state assessments scheduled this spring.
If districts experience school closures, it is NDDPI’s expectation that they follow their standard procedure for notifying parents and guardians. This includes, but is not limited to, calls, emails, updates to their district websites, text messages, and contacting local news stations. If parents and families do not hear from their districts regarding a closure, they should contact their school principal or district superintendent.
State Aid Reimbursement
In the event of an emergency and a school falls below the minimum number of hours required by law, schools can submit a waiver for state aid reimbursement payments.
NDCC 15.1-27-23. Weather or other emergency conditions – Closure of schools – State aid payments to school districts, reads:
1. The board of each school district shall establish the length of a period, day, and week in accordance with the requirements of section 15.1-06-04. If a public school or school district is closed or provides less than a full day of instruction, the public school or school district shall reschedule those hours to ensure students receive at least the minimum number of instructional hours required by subdivision a of subsection 1 of section 15.1-06-04.
2. Any public school or school district for which the rescheduling of classes would create undue hardship may request that, for purposes of calculating state aid payments to the school district, the governor waive the rescheduling in whole or in part.
You can access the waiver on the NDDPI website.