Most school districts follow the school calendar as defined in NDCC 15.1-06. However, there are situations when a district may request a waiver to alter their instructional days and/or time. The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction accepts submissions of two types of waivers for this purpose - Reconfiguration of Instructional Days Waiver and High School Unit Instructional Time Waiver.
- Initial waiver applications are due by March 1 of every year;
- Waiver extension applications are due by July 1 of every year.
North Dakota Century Code states "If a school district intends to operate under a school calendar that consists of four days of instruction per week, the school district shall apply and be approved for a waiver by the superintendent of public instruction" (SFN 58170).
The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction's definition of a four-day school week is as follows:
"A four-day school week includes a calendar that consistently has four student contact days a week over an interval of several months. This can be traditional four-day weeks in which the entire yearly calendar is comprised of four student contact days per week, or a hybrid four-day school week which consists of four student contact days per week in a chosen semester, or over a season such as winter. In addition, a district that implements a four-day school week will most likely have eight to nine hours of student contact time during the day within the four-day school week. Districts that implement a four-day school week must still create a contingency plan to provide services for students and families that are burdened by the four-day school week, such as provide breakfast and lunch.
Parents are accustomed to, and plan for, their children to be cared for five days per week during the school year. It is recommended that schools create a plan for students in the event necessary services cannot be provided by parents. For example, many schools conduct STEM days, physical education days, or at the very least provide breakfast and lunch to students. This contingency plan must be created and implemented at the local level.
Any planned activity hours – academic or non-academic – on the fifth day of a four-day school week are not to be counted in yearly calendar hour totals.
Regardless of when and how the four-day school week is implemented, schools must still adhere to the minimum hourly requirement of 962.5 hours of instruction per year at the elementary school level, and 1,050 hours of instruction at the middle and high school level.
A Waiver of High School Unit Instructional Time (SFN 58169) is required if:
- Reconfiguring the school day drops the hours of required unit time of a course (120 hours of student engagement per calendar in general coursework; 150 hours of student engagement per school calendar in Science and CTE courses).
*Note: A school/district may need both waivers if altering their school calendar significantly impacts high school instructional time.