Like all North Dakotans, the members of North Dakota United want to return to regular face-to-face instruction in our great public schools as soon as possible.  We understand more than most the importance of in-person instruction for students and staff alike.  To do so, however, we must be absolutely sure that our buildings are safe, and the health and safety of students and staff is always front of mind.

I know Governor Doug Burgum shares that view.  Today, I want to thank Governor Burgum for the guidance he has offered to local school districts as they continue to plan for the reopening of their schools.  He and Superintendent Kirsten Baesler have worked hard to gather the necessary data that informs this guidance.

As expected, the responsibility for the creation of reopening plans and protocols rests with the local school districts, as it should.  To that end, I am imploring local school boards and administrators to be as inclusive as possible as they undertake this important planning.  If we are to instill confidence in the minds of parents, students, professional educators, and education support professionals, it is imperative that they have a seat at the table and that their views are seriously considered.

I am further encouraging planning teams to develop policies for teachers and support staff who have underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk should they contract Covid-19.  In addition, plans must include provisions for teachers and staff who live with immunocompromised children or extended family.  No one should have to choose between their livelihood and the lives of those they love.

Finally, there is a role for the federal government to play in the preparation for the resumption of in-person teaching and learning.  There is legislation, the HEROES Act, awaiting action in the Senate that would provide badly needed resources to school districts working hard to ensure safe learning and working conditions.  ND United is asking Sens. Hoeven and Cramer to please push for that bill’s consideration or to propose legislation that would help North Dakota’s schools to afford the added expenses of making our kids, their teachers, administrators, and staff as safe as possible in these harrowing times.

Nick Archuleta

ND United President