BISMARCK, N.D. – By executive order, Gov. Doug Burgum today ordered the closure of North Dakota K-12 schools in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 based on guidance from public school superintendents, medical experts and the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH).
Out of an abundance of caution, public and private schools will be closed March 16-20. The decision was made in an effort to reduce the rate of infection and give the state an opportunity to gather more data, better assess testing and treatment capabilities and plan for education in the event of an extended COVID-19 pandemic. The situation will be reassessed at the end of the week.
“We remain in a state of calm and continue to base our decisions on fact, not fear,” Burgum said. “We want to work through the situation, gain understanding and make sure we’re driven by data and solid strategies.”
Burgum and other state officials plan to meet with district superintendents and health care providers to gather information and answer questions. Teachers should follow their district’s guidance on reporting to school.
“Students’ health and safety is our number one priority,” said State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler. “We're working with North Dakota district superintendents and community leaders to do the best that we can for our students.”
“Closing K-12 education is a proactive and aggressive approach to minimize community spread,” said State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte. “What we’ve learned this weekend from our medical advisors is that we need more time to ‘flatten the curve’ to slow the spread of COVID-19 so we don’t overwhelm the health care system."
State officials have the following recommendations:
- Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that groups or individuals should cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more.
- Stay home when you’re sick, cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands often.
- Get plenty of rest, drink fluids, eat healthy foods and manage your stress to help prevent getting COVID-19 and recover from it if you do.
The Department of Public Instruction is working with the Department of Human Services Division of Behavioral Health to launch resources to help explain COVID-19 to children.
The state lab has tested 112 individuals for COVID-19, with one positive case from an individual who had travel history. If individuals have questions, they can call the NDDoH hotline at (866) 207-2880 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.