Burgum, Baesler support school superintendents’ judgment about response to frigid temperature forecast

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Governor’s Office contact: Mike Nowatzki, 701.328.2424; Mark Staples, 701.328.2937
Department of Public Instruction contact: Dale Wetzel, 701.328.2247, dewetzel@nd.gov

BISMARCK, N.D. (Jan. 28, 2019) – With most of North Dakota under a wind chill warning for Tuesday, Gov. Doug Burgum and State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler are supporting the judgment of school administrators about whether to close schools in response.

Baesler said local school administrators decide whether to delay school openings, dismiss classes early or cancel school days altogether. Some storm days are already required to be "built in" to a school district’s calendar.

"Each of our North Dakota school districts is different, and our local superintendents are in the best position to judge whether it is appropriate to hold classes on days when the weather is snowy or extremely cold," Baesler said. "Our schools across the state are evaluating this new cold snap according to their local weather conditions, and that is how it should be."

The Department of Public Instruction has information about school closings on its website. A list of frequently asked questions, and the answers to those questions has been posted. 

Background information about school closings can also be found online. 

North Dakota Century Code 37-17.1-05 has been interpreted as giving the governor authority to close schools statewide, but only after first declaring a state of emergency through executive order. This authority has very rarely been exercised, as the decision historically has been left to local superintendents. Of the four winter storm emergencies declared by executive order since 2010, none included an order to close schools.