NDDPI Updates and Guidance on COVID-19


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Baesler's Work Gives Schools Flexibility, Local Control In Using Aid

Categories: all, COVID-19, Press Release

State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler successfully pushed the U.S. Department of Education to agree to grant North Dakota’s schools more local control and flexibility in managing federal aid that benefits students from low-income homes.

State Superintendent, Governor seek testing waiver

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State School Superintendent and Gov. Doug Burgum have collaborated on a request to the U.S. Department of Education to waive all federally mandated student assessments for the 2019-20 school year.

Governor Burgum issues Executive Order for Distance Learning to Count Towards Instructional Hours

Categories: all, COVID-19, Press Release

Governor Burgum, with State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler, provided updated guidance to K-12 school districts after the governor on Sunday ordered schools closed this week to slow the spread of COVID-19 and provide time to gather more data, better assess coronavirus testing and treatment capability, and allow school districts to plan for educating their students in the event of an extended COVID-19 pandemic.

Burgum: K-12 schools won’t have to make up instructional time from coronavirus-related closure

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Gov. Doug Burgum today announced that K-12 schools which were closed this week by executive order will not have to make up the instructional time later this school year.

Burgum orders K-12 schools to close for one week in effort to slow spread of COVID-19

Categories: all, COVID-19, Press Release

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).  

COVID-19 March 15 5:45 pm Update

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Update from ND Superintendent Kirsten Baesler: The situation is constantly evolving. North Dakota leaders have been meeting around the clock since Friday afternoon. 

COVID-19 March 15 12:30 pm Update

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Update from ND Superintendent Kirsten Baesler: I am aware of the Minnesota directive to close schools this week.

COVID-19 March 13 Update

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ND State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and Governor Doug Burgum say the governor will not order the state’s schools closed for now, because information about the presence of COVID-19 in North Dakota does not justify that step. There has been one confirmed COVID-19 case in Ward County, and there have been no documented cases of spread within a community.

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Decision Making

The NDDPI is the State Education Agency charged with overseeing and supporting North Dakota schools. In North Dakota, local school districts have a great amount of decision-making authority over how their districts operate. The State often lays the foundation, then provides districts with flexibility to meet the needs of their unique communities. The decision to close schools is regularly made by local superintendents in response to weather and other events in order to maintain the health and safety of students and staff. However, during a health-related outbreak such as this, it is recognized that local school districts look to their state health, safety and education agencies in addition to the Governor’s Office, for direction. We as a State will continue to assist in providing the most current and accurate information.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued specific guidance on school closures related to the COVID-19 on March 13, 2020.

Expectations and general guidance for schools:

  • Communicate regularly with students, families, staff, and the larger school community.
  • Practice routine cleaning and disinfecting procedures of commonly touched surfaces.
  • Maintain an open line of communication with their local public health officer.
  • Intentionally and persistently combat stigma through information sharing. COVID-19 is not at all connected to race, ethnicity, or nationality.
  • Actively engage in contingency planning for the possibility of extended school closures.

There are other expectations and considerations from NDDPI as this situation unfolds. Some Higher Education campuses such as North Dakota State University, University of North Dakota, and some other universities are extending the spring break and/or moving to an online platform for student classes. It is important to note that K-12 and North Dakota University System (NDUS) are both educational institutions; however, they serve different clients and the impact on closing down those facilities have very different ramifications to the community. Do not assume that K-12 should close because some university campuses have chosen to. This could create community issues beyond the educational setting:

  • Children have not been identified as a vulnerable population to become seriously ill from contracting COVID-19.
  • Closing schools will inevitably lead to many parents and caregivers without alternate childcare options. Many parents could be forced to stay home from work, including essential health care workers, which could have unforeseen consequences on the ability to care for affected populations.
  • Many families may turn to alternate caregivers, such as grandparents and other elderly extended family members, who are known to be more vulnerable to COVID-19.

NDDPI Continued Operations

The NDDPI’s Executive Leadership Team is continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation. As of March 15, all NDDPI events and in-person meetings will be canceled until April 6, 2020. We are also discussing the potential risks to internal operations and NDDPI staff. Options on how to handle these risks are being considered.

In the meantime, to ensure that we are prepared for all possible situations to continue to provide support and services to our schools and students, our staff have:

  • Ensured contact information is up to date.
  • Stored essential logins and passwords.
  • Reviewed and tested access to remote working capabilities.
  • Set-up office communication chains.

More Information

NDDPI is working closely with the Governor’s Office, ND Department of Health, ND Department of Emergency Services, and the North Dakota University System. NDDPI will provide ongoing guidance and resources regarding COVID-19 on the NDDPI website. 

The best place to find accurate, up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 is the NDDoH website. For further questions related to COVID-19, the public can call the NDDoH hotline at 1-866-207-2880.

If you have questions related to school operations during this outbreak, please contact Joe Kolosky with NDDPI at (701) 328-2755.