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Executive Orders – Education

(Updated March 31, 1:16 pm)

Q: The governor has issued a number of executive orders. Which ones affect K-12 education?

A:  All of the governor’s executive orders are posted on his website here:

https://www.governor.nd.gov/executive-orders

Here are the ones affecting education:

March 30, 2020-10.1 (Amendment to March 22 order):

  • School districts may open facilities during May to provide childcare to children of teachers, health and safety workers, and “lifeline workers” (agriculture, grocery stores, energy and utilities, banks, workers who serve the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.) Additional details included here as part of description of childcare emergency operating grant. These school child-care centers may serve children in grades K-5 only.  These facilities must conform to Department of Human Services childcare guidelines.

March 30, 2020-16

  • School board meetings may be conducted remotely without the use of a central meeting room. Remote access must be provided for those wanting to attend a school board meeting. This order applies generally to meetings of governing boards.

March 22, 2020-10: Closed public schools (and, later, nonpublic schools) until further notice. The previous order only specified closure from March 16 to March 20.

  • Required school districts to develop age-appropriate distance learning plans.
  • Set March 27 as deadline for turning in distance learning plans.
  • Instruction that is offered on April 1 and afterward that is offered under the guidance of an approved learning plan will count toward required instructional hours.
  • Release of April state aid payment depends on having an approved distance learning plan in place.
  • Exempted some nonpublic residential schools. They are listed in the order.

March 16, 2020-04.1 (Amendment to March 15 order)

  • Made amendments to March 15 order to exempt some nonpublic residential schools, which are listed in the order. Examples: state schools for the blind and deaf, Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, Circle of Nations School, Anne Carlsen Center.

March 15, 2020-04:

  • Ordered all public and non-public schools closed from Monday, March 16, to Friday, March 20, 2020.
  • Essential staff ordered to report to work Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17, to develop alternate plans for learning and providing school meals.

Executive Orders – Waiver Requests

Updated March 31, 1:32 pm

Q: North Dakota law and administrative rules have a number of deadlines affecting evaluations of teachers and administrators, non-renewal deadlines, and the like. How are these to be handled?

A: The Department of Public Instruction has submitted this list of deadlines that are included in the North Dakota Century Code and administrative rules, and asked that these deadlines be waived until further notice.

DEADLINES DEFINED ND ADMINISTRATIVE CODE TITLE 67

Due Date Report Name Agency
 March
   No Deadlines After After March 15 Listed in NDAC   
April
April 1

Recommendations from parent organizations in support of individuals seeking appointment to school boards of school districts on military installations due (67-04-01-01)

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Parent organizations may not get this done due to other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation. 
  • Consequences
    • An applicant may miss out on the opportunity to serve on the school board of a district within a military installation 

Impact: Military school boards could be short one or more school board members

State Superintendent shall review School Construction Loan applications filed during the 12-month period preceding April 1

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Schools may not get the applications in if they had planned to submit from March 16-April 1 due to dealing with challenges of the COVID-19 situation 
  • Consequences
    • A school may miss out on the opportunity to have a construction loan approved

Impact: Students may miss out on having an updated school facility 

 
April 10 Reimbursement report for School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program due (67-21-01-07, 67-21-02-07, 67-01-03-07, 67-21-04-07, 67-21-05-07, and 67-21-10-10)
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Schools may not get this done due to other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation. 
  • Consequences
    • A school would not be able to be reimbursed for its school foods expenses. 
Impact:  Students may not have access to school food programs 
 
April 15

State Superintendent Decision on approval of 4-day school weeks must be made (67-15-02-04)

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • DPI office has had to put regular work on hold due to challenges of the COVID-19 situation 
  • Consequences
    • School would be notified later than April 15 of the 4-day school week 

Impact:  Communities wanting a 4-day school week would not be able to do so. 

Deadline for school boards to notify superintendent of contemplated nonrenewal (NDCC 15.1-14-11)
 
April 21 Deadline for districts to hold Superintendent nonrenewal hearing (NDCC 15.1-14-09)  
Prior to May

State Board of Public Education shall meet to consider approval of applicants for school board positions for districts within a military installation. Within 15 days of the meeting but prior to May 1) the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall announce the board members and the length of their term of office. (67-04-01-01)

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • The State Board of Education may not be able to meet in time due to other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation. The application process also may get behind schedule if applicants or references aren’t able to get paperwork in on time due to other priorities related to COVID-19. 
  • Consequences
    • An applicant may miss out on the opportunity to serve on the school board of a district within a military installation 

Impact:  Military school boards could be short one or more school board members

 
May 
May 10 Reimbursement report for School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program due ( 67-21-01-07, 67-21-02-07, 67-01-03-07, 67-21-04-07, 67-21-05-07, and 67-21-10-10)
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Schools may not get this done due to other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation. 
  • Consequences
    • A school would not be able to be reimbursed for its school foods expenses. 
Impact:  Students may not have access to school food programs
 
15 days prior to start of summer school program Application for elementary and high school summer school program due (67-20-01-01 and 67-24-01-01)
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Schools may not get this done due to other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation. 
  • Consequences
    • A school would not be reimbursed for summer school expenses 
Impact:  Students may miss out on summer school opportunities 
 
Prior to the start of summer school program Application cooperative agreements between school districts for elementary and high school summer school program due (67-20-01-07 and 67-24-01-07)
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Districts may not get this done due to other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation. 
  • Consequences
    • A school would not be able to offer summer school options that it may not otherwise be able to offer on its own 

Impact:  Students in smaller schools may miss out on summer school opportunities

 
June
End of Year

English Learners program report due (67-28-01-08)

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Schools may not get this done due to other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation. 
  • Consequences
    • A school would not be meeting requirements of EL program 

Impact:  Students that need it may not have access to EL programs

 
June 10 Reimbursement report for School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program due ( 67-21-01-07, 67-21-02-07, 67-01-03-07, 67-21-04-07, 67-21-05-07, and 67-21-10-10)
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Schools may not get this done due to other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation. 
  • Consequences
    • A school would not be able to be reimbursed for its school foods expenses. 

Impact:  Students may not have access to school food programs

 
July
July 1

School District Cooperative Agreements take effect, must be approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction prior to that (no application deadline listed) (67-13-01-02)

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Districts may not get this done due to other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation. 
  • Consequences
    • Districts may not be able to participate in cooperative agreements  

Impact:   Districts may not be able to participate in cooperative agreements  
Deadline for applications to extend plan for 4-day school week (67-15-02-07) 

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Schools may miss this deadline due to addressing other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation  
  • Consequences
    • Schools would not be able to continue to have a 4-day school week 

Impact:  Communities wanting a 4-day school week would not be able to continue to do so.
Application for waiver of accreditation standards or unit time due (67-19-02-07)

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Schools may miss this deadline due to addressing other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation  
  • Consequences
    • School would not be able to continue their waivers 

Impact:  Students would not be able to continue the benefits the innovation they have experienced under the waiver in their school. 

 
July 10 Reimbursement report for School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program due (67-21-01-07, 67-21-02-07, 67-01-03-07, 67-21-04-07, 67-21-05-07, and 67-21-10-10)
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Schools may not get this done due to other priorities due to the COVID-19 situation. 
  • Consequences
    • A school would not be able to be reimbursed for its school foods expenses. 
Impact:  Students may not have access to school food programs
 

DEADLINES DEFINED IN NDCC TITLE 15.1 

Due Date Report Name Agency
April
April 1 15.1-15-02. Probationary teachers - Review of evaluations - Renewal and nonrenewal
of contracts (No Earlier than April 1).
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • If school is cancelled for an extended period of time teachers will not be able to be evaluated. Administrators may not be able to complete reports because of the COVID-19 because of dealing with other priorities. 
  • Consequences
    • Schools will not be able to non-renew teachers that could be non-renewed.

Impacts: students could have another year with a poor teacher. 

CHAPTER 15.1-14 – All Administrator Contracts by April 15

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • If school is cancelled for an extended period of time administrators will not be able to be evaluated. Administrators may not be able to complete reports because of the COVID-19 because of dealing with other priorities. 
  • Consequences
    • Schools will not be able to non-renew administrators that could be non-renewed. 

Impacts: students could have another year with a poor administrator. 

 
April 15 15.1-15-01. Performance reviews - Written reports. (tenure teacher evals)
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • If school is cancelled for an extended period of time teachers will not be able to be evaluated. Administrators may not be able to complete reports because of the COVID-19 because of dealing with other priorities. 
  • Consequences
    • Schools will not be able to non-renew teachers that could be non-renewed. 
Impacts: students could have another year with a poor teacher.
 
May 
Prior to May 15.1-27-23. Request for Emergency Declaration (aka-Storm Day Forgiveness) (SFN 51826)
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • If school is cancelled past may first the waiver may not be filed. 
  • Consequences
    • State aid that is needed to operate school will not be paid
Impact:  schools won’t have money to pay bills and staff. 
 
May 1 15.1-15-02. Probationary teachers - Review of evaluations - Renewal and nonrenewal
of contracts. (May 1st Deadline)
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • If school is cancelled for an extended period of time teachers will not be able to be evaluated. Administrators may not be able to complete reports because of the COVID-19 because of dealing with other priorities. 
  • Consequences
    • Schools will not be able to non-renew teachers that could be non-renewed. 
Impacts: students could have another year with a poor teacher. 
 
June 
June 5 NDCC 15.1-21-02.4 and 15.1-21-02.5. Deadline to have all academic and testing requirements met for Academic and CTE Scholarship 
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • Students needing to take the ACT or WorkKeys to qualify for the scholarship have had test dates postponed to dates after their graduation dates due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students also may potentially not be able to complete coursework required for the scholarship prior to graduation due to interruptions as a result of the COVID-19 situation. 
  • Consequences
    • A student currently cannot legally be awarded the scholarship if they have not met scholarship requirements prior to graduation. 
Impact:  Students could miss out on the scholarship due to not having academics or testing completed due to the COVID-19 situation.
 
June 30 15.1-27-02 Per Student Payments – Required Reports (Enrollment Report Spring - All must be accurate (no errors))
  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • District’s may be delayed in reporting membership and attendance if the school year is extended into mid to late June or beyond. Staff to complete the report may not have access to the system to complete in a timely manner.
  • Consequences
    • This report is used to calculate foundation aid. I cannot calculate or forward payments to districts that do not have this report submitted beginning November 1st, 2020. (Probably need by October,26 to realistically calculate and pay on time, but would leave no time for desk audits/reviews) The August, September, and October payments are sent out based on budgeted numbers so those payments would not be affected. 

Impacts: Schools who do not submit this report will have payments delayed beginning November 1st

15.1-21-08.1. Parental directive - Administration of tests and assessments - Report.
15.1-06-18 School report Review
15.1-21-08.1. Parental directive - Administration of tests and assessments - Report.

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • This report deals with parents who want to keep their student from administration of tests. The current situation might keep all assessments from occurring, therefore making this report irrelevant.  If a school did receive a parental directive for an assessment that was given, the reporting of this to DPI can be put off or not called for. 
  • Consequences
    • None. If no testing occurs, a student who was apart of a parental directive would simply not have tested (like other students).  

Impact:  None

15.1-09-35. Reports by school boards on conditions of schools.

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • This is a local report published in local papers. It isn’t due to the NDDPI. IT may not be met because of administrators dealing with COVID-19.
  • Consequences
    • local consequences

Impacts: Information will not be published to the public. 

15.1.07-26 School District demographics – Long- Term Planning (Every Even Year)

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • This is a local report published in local papers. It isn’t due to the NDDPI. IT may not be met because of administrators dealing with COVID-19.
  • Consequences
    • Information will not be published for the public.

Impacts: Information will not be distributed. 

15.1-09-50. Board of education of city of Fargo - Powers.

  • Why deadline can’t be met
    • This is a local report published in local papers. It isn’t due to the NDDPI. IT may not be met because of administrators dealing with COVID-19.
  • Consequences
    • Information will not be published for the public.
Impacts: Information will not be distributed.
 

Career and Technical Education

(Updated March 30, 10:23 am)

Q:  Will students be allowed to participate in career and technical education labs, in small groups, in school buildings?

A: No. On-site student instruction in a school/education building is barred by the governor’s executive order.

Q:  Are students allowed to work remotely on various job sites, in small groups. For example, a building trades program is building a house on a residential lot. Are they permitted to do so?

A: Yes. That activity is not inside a school building. It would also be permissible to have a teacher assist/supervise them.

Federal Waivers

(Updated March 30, 10:23 am)

Q: What waivers have been approved by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture relating to COVID-19?

Waivers due to COVID-19

Name of Waiver Purpose Approval Date
U.S Education Department: Assessment/Accountability/Reporting
  • The authority to waive North Dakota State Assessment spring testing for Spring 2020
  • Eliminates the requirement to create 2019-2020 School Accountability Reports (Release Date August 2020)
  • Waives need for NDDPI to create several assessment/accountability reports
Tentatively Approved March 22, 2020

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Summer Food Service Program

  • Allows school districts to serve meals through the Summer Food Service Program at school or non-school sites during unanticipated school closures
  • Allows Summer Food Service Program sites to serve takeaway meals during COVID 19 school closures
March 13, 2020
U.S. Department of Agriculture:
Child Nutrition Program
  • Waiver to Allow Meal Service Time Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs
March 20, 2020

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Child Nutrition Program

  • Allows Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs
  • Allows Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children without children present
  • Allows Community Eligibility Provision State Reporting Deadlines
March 25, 2020
U.S. Department of Agriculture: Child Nutrition Program
  • Waives Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Monitoring Requirements for State agencies
  • Waives SFSP Monitoring Requirement for Sponsors
  • Waives Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Monitoring Requirements State Agencies
  • Waives CACFP Monitoring Requirements for Sponsors
  • Waives School Nutrition Program Requirements for State Agencies and Sponsors
  • Waives area eligibility requirement for open sites for SFSP sponsors in good standing through June 30, 2020.  Allows SFSP and SSO sponsors in good standing to operate open sites in areas approved by NDDPI based on economic hardship, but that are not located in areas in which poor economic conditions exist.
March 27, 2020

Family Engagement for Early Learners

(Updated March 23, 3:45 pm)

Q: How do I register my four-year-old for this program?

A: Families can register for this family engagement early learning program directly by completing the pre-registration form online or by calling 1-888-982-9898.

Q: Who do I contact for assistance?

A: You can contact Carolyn Kueber in the Office of Early Learning at (701) 328-1640.

Q: How can I find more information?

A: Please view the flyer for additional information.

Assessments 

(Updated March 25, 12:15 pm) 

ACT

All state-wide assessments for accountability have been canceled for the year. This includes NDSA, NDAA, and ACT. 

Due to the indefinite closure of North Dakota schools, NDDPI has made the difficult decision to cancel all ACT Makeup Testing dates for this spring. ACT has offered North Dakota and its juniors who were not able to test on the initial test date of March 3, 2020, the opportunity to take the ACT with Writing on either the June 2020 or July 2020 national test date, at no cost to them.

NDDPI is currently working with ACT to obtain vouchers. This process will take several weeks. NDDPI will share the vouchers with schools when available.  Schools will be responsible to deliver the vouchers to students. Students will need to go to ACT’s Website to register for the national June 13, 2020 or July 18, 2020 test date, using the state provided voucher, by the registration deadline. On this registration site, students will be able to choose an available test center nearest to them.

Schools must email the Office of Assessment by Wednesday, April 15, 2020, to request vouchers for their juniors who were not able to test on the initial state ACT test date. In the email, please provide the number of juniors who need vouchers for either the June 13, 2020 or July 18, 2020 national test dates. Only one voucher will be allowed per student, but vouchers will work for either test date.

Distance Learning 

(Updated March 25, 1:45 pm) 

Q: Can I submit multiple versions of my District Distance Learning Plan for consideration?

A: To provide districts the feedback and approval they desire (and need) of their district learning plan as quickly as possible, we must make our review process as efficient as possible, therefore;

  • Each school district is allowed to submit their complete and entire plan (with all attachments) one time
  • NDDPI will either recommend approval or provide feedback to each district one time
  • If your plan is not recommended for approval on its initial submission, a district can re-submit and NDDPI will review a final time and send to the Governor

Q: Can I use a template for my District Distance Learning Plan?

A: There have been plans in template format being received that don’t meet all the expectations outlined in the Governor and NDDPI’s guidance.  We encourage districts to use the guidance on the NDDPI website to address the components within your local plan. If you choose to utilize a format, please use the template created by Luke Schaefer and CREA.

Q: Is school board approval required before a district may submit its distance learning plan to the Department of Public Instruction? 

A: No. School board approval is not required before the plan is submitted. However, these plans should be reviewed by the district’s school board at the board’s next regular meeting. 

Q: Will the plans being submitted by districts for approval under the Innovation bill be available to the public? 

A: On March 19, 2020, Gov. Burgum referred to distance learning plans that school districts would be required to develop as part of his executive order to close schools until further notice. NDDPI will be receiving these plans. The submission deadline is Friday, March 27. The plans will be public records.  

As he was discussing distance learning plans, the governor mentioned SB2186, an education innovation bill that was approved by the Legislature in 2017. The distance learning plans will not be “innovation plans” under SB2186, because that law has a number of implementation requirements that cannot be met within a few weeks. However, it should be pointed out that education innovation plans that are drafted in response to SB2186 are also public records. 

Q: We have put a plan in place to provide our classrooms through online means. Should we move forward with this, or move our focus to a plan to reopen our doors? We do believe we can go mobile right now but will have some questions over some of the special education requirements. 

A: Gov. Burgum has asked district and school leaders to develop a comprehensive plan. The plan should focus both on the short term (if school is reopened) and the long term (extended closing of schools). NDDPI has posted guidance to help school leaders develop these plans. 

Q: What is being done for students who may be disadvantaged in education because they do not have home access to high-speed broadband connections? 

A: The North Dakota Information Technology agency is analyzing which student homes lack access to high-speed broadband. The Broadband Association of North Dakota, which represents high-speed Internet providers, and the Dakota Carrier Network, which provides broadband connections statewide, are working on solutions to get access to those homes. Another note: Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T have removed data caps on their services. 

Q: You mentioned NDIT is looking into ensuring high-speed internet is available for students free of charge for four months. We are a private school. If we send our directory information to them, will they include our students in this service? We have a few families without reliable access at this time and are working on options, this seems to be the best option to meet the need.  

A: BEK Communications, a broadband provider based in Steele, is providing four months’ service for free to a student’s family if they don’t currently take broadband service. After that, the family becomes a subscriber. Other telecommunications cooperatives or businesses may be offering something similar. Families and schools may want to work with providers in their area.  

Q: If we give our students books, papers and pencils, and a device to connect to the internet, can we have them complete the work as a home bound student due to pandemic? Otherwise do you want me to just have the students sit at home and do nothing?  

A: There are many methods for delivering distance education, including the ones you mentioned. We are confident our school administrators will be able to work through these challenges. We have seen many excellent examples of this already. NDDPI guidance on distance learning will be posted shortly on our agency website, and local school districts should be communicating with you shortly about their plans, if they have not already. 

Special Education

(Updated March 26, 2:45 pm) 

Q: What should we be doing for 2-7 meetings, pre-K initial evaluations, and the part C to part B transitions? Do we hold profile/2-7 meetings with Early Intervention families? If so, and schools are canceled, how do we test children?  What if families decline home visits to conduct meetings? How are we to evaluate 2- to 5-year-olds with the 6-foot separation recommendations provided? 

A: NDDPI has reached out to national organizations such as the Office of Special Education Programs, the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. We are currently awaiting guidance about timelines for transitioning children from Part C to Part B.  At this time, we urge programs to continue to make attempts, as you would with other Individual Education Plan meetings. Districts should consider ways to conduct initial evaluations and use distance technology to the extent possible. Collaborate with Part C providers and connect virtually if possible. Communicate with your families and document your interactions and attempts to provide services. Additional guidance on providing services to children with disabilities. 

Q: What should we plan to do with early childhood outcomes and exit scores?  Should we be doing those without the anchor tool assessment, or would more informal assessments suffice? 

A:  NDDPI has reached out to national organizations such as the Office of Special Education Programs, the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education for help with timelines for completion of Early Childhood Outcomes. Look at each student individually, and determine if giving the anchor tool by distance learning is appropriate. Please communicate with your families, and document all attempts to provide services and decisions made by the Individual Education Plan team. Additional guidance on providing services to children with disabilities. 

Q: If Early Intervention families want us to hold virtual 2-7s, how do we review their procedural safeguards and give them a copy before the meeting? Can we direct them to the NDDPI website for the link rather than provide a copy? When are they supposed to sign consent for the evaluation process, releases for DD to be present for the 2-7 meeting, outside agency releases, and eventually initial consent for special education placement, etc.?

A: NDDPI recognizes that during this unusual time, programs will need to be creative and diligent in ensuring parents are informed of their procedural rights and safeguards.  We advise using distance learning methods, email, and links to the NDDPI website as needed to assist in verification and communication with families. Additional guidance on providing services to children with disabilities. 

Q: As we look to hold Integrated Written Assessment Reports (IWAR)/initial Individual Education Programs (IEP), what is the IEP start date for children who are in Head Start or community programs?  We have five school days before they HAVE to start. Do we just use that five-day start date, and document the situation, or is there another suggestion for a start date?

A: Continue attempting to provide services and meet transition timelines. Until we have additional federal guidance, you should attempt to maintain your timeline dates, while documenting any issues that arise because of the virus situation.

Q: If we are completing an Integrated Written Assessment Report (IWAR) and making an eligibility statement for a student who has a specific learning disability (SLD) through a virtual meeting, how should we move forward with the requirement of obtaining the parent(s) signature?

A: If you are completing an Integrated Written Assessment Report (IWAR) for a Specific Learning Disability (SLD), the parent must sign a document indicating that he or she agreed with the determination. If you are not able to obtain a parent signature in person, you may consider emailing an image of the document to the parent. The parent could then sign the document and send it back to you.

Every attempt should be made to obtain the parent’s signature. If circumstances do not allow this, verbal confirmation may be appropriate. Documentation should be done that states the parent agrees or disagrees with the determination, and that the parent is giving verbal consent to the IWAR/SLD document. Include documentation of how current circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic led to verbal consent, rather than written consent.

Q: Are Microsoft Teams and/or Zoom compliant with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act?

A: Microsoft Teams is HIPAA compliant.  The free version of Zoom is not. Zoom sells a paid version of its application that can be HIPAA compliant.

Q: Will students that receive 1:1 nursing care still be receiving this service during remote learning?

A: Yes.  This service can be addressed through Individual Education Program team decision and planning, which includes the local education agency.  Consideration for telehealth or outpatient services may be addressed, as well as incremental to full-service delivery in the home setting.

(Updated March 23,10:23 am) 

Q: Is the school required to provide special education and related services during school closure? 

A: If the school is closed and is not providing services for its students, it is not required to provide services for students with Individual Education Plans. Federal law requires schools to provide equitable services for special education students if the school intends to offer virtual learning. 

Q: How do we handle the special education service minutes? 

A: If the school is closed for all students, the school would not be obligated to follow the service minutes on the Individualized Education Plan while the school is shut down. A written notice should be sent to the student’s family to inform them about this service delay during the school closure. 

Q: Regarding an initial evaluation for an Individualized Education Plan, how do we handle it of the evaluation process cannot be completed within 60 days, which is the amount of time allowed by law? 

A: The evaluation process can be extended beyond 60 days if there is a state or national emergency. The school district should send a written notice to the family, indicating that the evaluation will be completed as soon as possible after school resumes. 

Sports 

(Updated March 23,10:23 am) 

Q: With the school closures and the suspension of all activities, I have a question about eSports. The league we are using across North Dakota (PlayVS) has decided to allow students to compete from home. May eSports resume next week (March 23?) I know not all students have access to computers at home, but for those that do, this could bring some normalcy back to our students and maybe give them something to look forward to during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A: These questions would be best answered by local school administrators or the North Dakota High School Activities Association. 

School Operations

(Updated March 30,10:23 am) 

Q: Can preschools that are linked to a K-12 school still charge you a monthly fee, even though schools are closed?

A: Yes.

Q: Is staff who have been at work being paid by the district or by the state?

A: The district. (A major source of school district revenue is state education aid payments.)

Q: Please clarify which employees are essential and whether hourly staff is getting paid.

A: Essential employees are designated by school district administrators. Decisions on whether to pay hourly employees who are not working are in the hands of school district administrators.

(Updated March 23,10:23 am) 

Q: The Centers for Disease Control guidelines advise to “avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.” Does this mean that employee meetings with more than 10 people should not be held? 

A: The definition of “social gatherings” does not include work or schools. It refers to gatherings in which the people who are gathered don’t meet regularly or may not know each other. 

Q: What about the deadlines in state law for conducting teacher evaluations? Can those be extended? 

A: The governor intends to address this issue in an executive order. There are a number of education-related deadlines, including evaluations for teachers and administrators, that are likely to be addressed in a forthcoming executive order. 

Q: (This is a composite of several pay-related questions.) I am a paraprofessional/administrative assistant/support person in my school district. If we do shut down all the schools in North Dakota for a week, or several weeks, will we still get paid? Will we be required to use our vacation/sick/emergency leave? 

A: Pay decisions are in the hands of local school administrators and school boards. School districts have already received 92 percent of the state education aid for which they budgeted during the 2019-20 school year. They will receive the remaining installment in April, once they have an approved plan for teaching students by distance learning. 

Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and Gov. Doug Burgum have said they want schools to pay their employees during these school closings, and that school districts should have the money to do so. 

State Aid to Schools 

(Updated March 23,10:23 am) 

Q: Will schools’ state aid payments be reduced because of the closure? 

A: Gov. Burgum has ordered public K-12 schools closed to all but essential personnel until further notice. Because of the order’s prohibition against on-site student instruction in schools, the governor has waived school districts’ responsibility to make up any instructional time lost through April 1.  

Starting on April 1, schools will be responsible for providing distance learning for students. This distance learning will count as instructional time, which is linked to state education aid payments. Districts will not receive their April state aid payment until they have an approved distance learning plan in place.  

State education aid payments to schools are distributed in nine installments during the school year. The payments for the 2019-20 school year started in August 2019. North Dakota school districts have already received 92% of the state aid they were expecting for the 2019-20 school year. 

Educators 

Updated March 25, 3:00 pm)

Why is Superintendent Baesler’s briefing for educators at 5:30 p.m.? This is well past our teacher contract time (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

A: The briefing follows Gov. Burgum’s daily 4 p.m. press conference (Central). By holding it at 5:30 p.m. (Central), Superintendent Baesler can incorporate information from the governor’s presentation. These briefings are recorded and posted on the Department of Public Instruction’s website under its FAQs tab (https://www.nd.gov/dpi/school-closure-faq). Anyone who is interested in listening to the superintendent’s briefing may do so at their convenience.

Q: What happens to this year’s required teacher evaluations?

A: The governor has been asked to waive this year’s evaluation requirement.

Q: Can a school district require teachers to be at the designated school during designated school hours? Or are teachers allowed to work remotely during the COVID-19 situation?

A: The answer to your first question is Yes. Teachers can ask to work from home and advance arguments about the benefits of doing so, but under the governor’s current executive order, school administrators decide who works where.

(Updated March 23,10:23 am) 

Q: May a school provide professional development for teachers online during mandatory professional development days? 

A: Yes. 

Q: Will districts expect teachers to put in time equivalent to an instructional day? 

A: That is a local decision that each district will determine. 

School Meals

(Updated March 30, 11:10 am)

Q: Am I required to provide school meals to students who are homeschooled?

A: You may, but it is not compulsory.

Q: Will I be reimbursed for meals provided to students who are homeschooled?

A: Yes.

Q: May I charge for school meals provided to students who are homeschooled?

A: No.

(Updated March 23,10:23 am) 

Q: The Department of Public Instruction hosted a webinar on Thursday, March 19, to take questions and provide information about how the Summer Food Service Program will be conducted during the school shutdown. Is that available? 

A: Yes. a presentation and other information about the Summer Food Service Program.

Q: Congress has approved, and the president has signed, legislation that broadens the availability of school meals for children that can be delivered or picked up. Schools can be reimbursed for those meals. Is the legislation retroactive to this week?  

A: We are anticipating that the U.S. Agriculture Department will approve any meals served starting on March 16, when the governor first ordered the closure of North Dakota schools. This is not guaranteed, however. We will notify everyone once we have a definitive answer to that question. 

Q: What about districts that are delivering meals? How will they be compensated? 

A: Districts that are conducting home delivery will be able to claim reimbursement for those meals. Districts that deliver meals should document all the meals delivered for each day on the Meal Count Tally Sheet.

Q: How do districts handle providing meals for a family who is quarantined?  

A: Families who are quarantined may receive home-delivered meals for their children. 

Q: May we serve Saturday and Sunday meals and get reimbursed for them? And may we deliver the meals Friday for the weekend? 

A: At this time, we are not providing reimbursement for meals provided for Saturday or Sunday. 

Q: If we sign up to provide school meals during the North Dakota school closure period, do we have to serve both breakfast and lunch, or can we just serve lunch, since we don't offer a breakfast during the school year?  

A: You are not required to serve breakfast. Schools may choose to serve up to two meals per day.  Breakfast only, lunch only, snack only, or breakfast and lunch, lunch and a snack, or breakfast and a snack. 

Q: We are delivering meals, so how do we ensure the students are present?  

A: When delivering meals to homes, you do not need to see each child in the household.  Schools should have a record of the number of children in each household.   

Q: If one school location has done the Summer Food Service Program in the past, do the other schools that didn't do the Summer Food Service Program have to sign up as a new site? 

A: Only those sponsors who did not participate in the program in 2019 will need to complete and send in the program’s agreement and policy statement on free meals. All sponsors will need to complete the Summer Food Service Program’s Unanticipated Closure Plan.  

Q: At this point, are we charging for the meals? 

A: No.  All meals for children are free.  Schools may serve adult meals and decide if they would like to charge for them. We recommend $4 for each adult meal. 

Q; What are we doing with the Free Fruit and Vegetable Program? Do we use that funding or not?  

A: The Free Fruit and Vegetable Program is currently suspended. Any produce purchased by the Free Fruit and Vegetable Program that you have on hand can used be in your meal service. You are not allowed to use those program funds for meals served during the school closures.   

Q: Are we required to produce a weekly/monthly menu? 

A: No. However, it is recommended that schools develop at least a weekly menu, or even a cycle menu, if possible. 

Q: For those who are delivering meals, what do we put on the form for serving time? 

A: The time you start and end deliveries.   

Q: If we are a Direct Certification school, do we stay with that for reporting, or do we switch to the Summer Food Service Program? (Direct Certification certifies eligible children for free meals without the need for households to apply for them.)  

A: You need to switch to the Summer Food Service Program.   

Q: Is the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program still going?  

A: No. It has been suspended. 

Q: May we use the fresh fruit and vegetables that we have in our coolers for meals?  

A: Any produce purchased by the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program that you have on hand can be used in your meal service. 

Q: May we use Department of Defense funds for meals? 

A: Yes. 

Q: So the kids are not charged for the Summer Food Service Program meals, but the adults are? 

A: All meals for children are free. Schools may decide whether they serve adult meals, and whether they charge for them. We recommend charging $4 for each adult meal. 

Q: What do we do if a shelter in place is ordered? 

A: We’ll figure it out then and provide guidance. 

Q: If your school is doing grab-and-go and home delivery, do we need to fill out the site twice to show both options?  

A: Yes. Your “grab-and-go” would be one site, and your home delivery would be another. 

Q: If you co-op with another district, how will the reimbursement be split? 

A: We encourage districts to work together in order to ensure that all children can receive meals during the school closures. Please work together to figure out the best way to divide the reimbursement. 

Q: The Summer Food Service Program is for all kids in your school, and not just those who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals?  

A: Yes. All children, ages 1 to 18, may be provided free meals, regardless of whether they are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. 

Q: When is the deadline to sign up? 

A: Please submit the required documents to the Office of Child Nutrition and Food Distribution to Melissa Anderson or Scott Egge by Friday, March 27 . 

Q: You said all children ages 1-18 are eligible for free meals? I had one family concerned about some children in their household being eligible, and not others.  

A: Yes, all children, ages 1-18, may be provided free meals. 

Q: Do we keep track of the meals that we distribute? 

A: Yes. Document all meals that are handed out and/or delivered for each day on the Meal Count Tally Sheet.

Q: Is there any transportation reimbursement for delivery of meals? 

A: No. Not at the present time. 

Q:  How long are we allowed to do this program? 

A: At this time, we believe the program will end on the last day of school. 

Q: If there is a daycare for the parents working during this time, are those children eligible to use this feeding program?  

A: School districts can work with “Emergency Daycare” centers to provide meals to the children who are there. The meals provided would be claimed for reimbursement by the school district under the Summer Food Service Program.  Daycare centers and homes that were operating prior to the school closures must continue to operate under the Child and Adult Care Food Program. 

Q: Does each student need to be present to get their meals, or can a sibling pick up meals for all members of the family?  

A: Each student need not be present. A sibling may pick up meals for all members of the family. 

Q: What about students with special dietary needs who require accommodations?  

A: They are eligible for the Summer Food Service Program free meals. If the student has a medical statement on file from their doctor, please work with the families to provide those meals. 

Q: What about meals for the elderly? For public safety and healthcare workers? May we offer meals and do we need to charge?  

A: It is up to your school district to decide if you will be providing adult meals for the elderly, to healthcare staff, or to public safety workers. Schools may serve adult meals and decide whether to charge for them. We recommend $4 per adult meal.   

Q: Can I pay my kitchen staff from school food service funds if the school district is not area eligible? 

A: Yes. 

Open Meetings 

(Updated March 23,10:23 am) 

Q: What effect does the governor’s state of emergency declaration, the closing of schools, social distancing requirements, etc. have on North Dakota’s open meeting requirements? 

A: The state of emergency does not impact open meeting requirements.  Virtual meetings may be held if the public may participate by phone, skype or some other remote conferencing system. A virtual meeting may go into executive session for the reasons specified in state law, using a second connection or phone line. 

Prom and Graduation

(Updated March 30,10:23 am) 

Q: What is the effect of not having a graduation ceremony?

A: A student’s school transcript shows whether he or she is a high school graduate. The walk across the stage is strictly ceremonial. It is not necessary to go through a graduation ceremony to graduate from high school.

Q: Will we be able to have a graduation ceremony at the normal time, say mid-May?

A: That is extremely unlikely. However, some schools are planning to hold graduation ceremonies when the present social distancing guidelines are relaxed or eliminated, which could happen during the summertime.

Q: What is the feel statewide on prom?

A: The chances for schools holding a “normal” prom are about zero. The Centers for Disease Control has extended “social distancing” guidelines to April 30. However, schools are not barred from organizing proms whenever the present social distancing guidelines are relaxed or eliminated.

Miscellaneous

(Updated March 23,10:23 am) 

Q: Does the governor’s executive order to close schools include a licensed preschool? 

A: Yes, if the preschool is affiliated with a K-12 school. 

Q: Gov. Burgum is ordering schools to be closed, service to be restricted at bars and restaurants, and other measures intended to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. What is the penalty for violating an executive order? 

A: A fine of up to $1,000. 

Q:  If the Governor’s guidance was a recommendation for schools to close, can we still choose to have school? 

A. No. The Governor’s most recent executive order directed all public K-12 schools to be closed to on-site student instruction until further notice. Schools shall refrain from normal education and activities during this time. 

Q: Our entire school has fewer than 50 students. Can we reopen? 

A: If a school closing is ordered by the Governor, the school cannot be in session, regardless of its size. 

Q:  Are schools still required to provide school counseling services to students? 

A: When providing virtual learning opportunities during this time, schools must continue to provide school counseling services, even if this is done electronically. There is guidance from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) relating to virtual school counseling during an emergency shutdown. School counselors still must follow all ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors and see their position statement on virtual school counseling. School counselors should also work collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure equity, access, and success of all students by whatever method that virtual school counseling is offered.

Q: How will dual credit courses handle the closure due to COVID-19? 

A: Dual credit course arrangements are coordinated between the individual high school and the NDUS college or university offering the course.  If there are questions regarding dual credit courses for the spring semester, individuals should contact the local school to learn how the district and the college or university partner have determined to handle school closure.

Academic and Career and Technical Education Scholarships

(Updated March 25, 3:00 pm) 

Q: What about deadlines in North Dakota law for having high school tests and course work completed to qualify for an academic or CTE scholarship?

A: The Department of Public Instruction has asked the governor to issue an executive order to extend those deadlines.

Q: What impact does the use of pass/fail grading have on scholarship qualifications?

A: To get an academic or CTE scholarship, a student needs to take a number of required courses and have a grade-point average of 3.0 or better. Classes that use pass/fail grading may not be used to satisfy scholarship requirements.

21st Century Community Learning Centers

(Updated March 25, 3:00 pm) 

Q: Because of North Dakota schools being closed from March 16 until further notice, will hours have to be added to meet the 21st CCLC 320-hour requirement?

A:No.The governor has waived the requirement to make up hours from school closures starting on March 16, 2020. Districts must have plans in place to support distance learning by April 1, 2020. Programs should be planning along with their local districts and communities on how to support students and families. Please work with the State 21st CCLC Administrator when programs resume to determine how to best meet the needs of the students and families.

Q: With our program shut down, can we continue to pay 21st CCLC staff?

  • Programs are encouraged to continue to pay all staff during the shutdown to alleviate potential financial instability and hardship for employees. Staff should be assigned projects and activities related to program planning. Work logs should be kept. However, there will not be additional 21st CCLC funds allocated to support additional staff requirements. If modifications to your budget need to be made, please work with your State 21st CCLC Administrator.

The NDDPI believes that sub-grantees should continue to pay salaries for their staff as related to their goals and project plans. A variety of activities that are part of 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs may continue. Activities must be in support of program goals and directly related to program effectiveness and student achievement. Allowable uses of money include:

  • Distance learning for students, using platforms to which students have access. If distance learning is not an option, an attempt can be made to provide other activities and learning supplements to students.
  • In the case where a school-age child-care program licensed by the Department of Human Services and supported by 21st Century Community Learning Centers program funds continues to operate (at the discretion of school/district administrators), program activities may continue. Parents should be encouraged to keep children home. School-age child care programs that continue to operate should be limited and serve only students for whom no other reasonable care alternatives exist. Aggressive hygiene and disinfecting practices, and social distancing, should be followed. Please contact the early childhood services office if you have questions.
  • School collaboration efforts (such as resource building, evidence-based math and reading support, etc.).
  • Fiscal Year 2021 21st CCLC Continuation Plan preparation (deadline May 15).
  • Virtual staff meetings by conference calls, Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or other methods.
  • Family education and engagement opportunities.
  • Curriculum work and lesson plan development (must be specific to the 21st CCLC program).
  • 21st CCLC program data entry and validation.
  • Online professional development for staff.
  • Systems planning work (for example, summer programs, evaluation, sustainability, safety, budgeting).
  • Online programming for youth that may be reasonable and necessary.
  • Other expectations and associated job tasks listed in job descriptions that are reasonable and necessary during the closure period.
  • Gathering virtual and off-site student materials and information to support families.
  • Administrative costs associated with programs.

Note: Final approval of work and work protocols are the responsibility of the local school district or organization awarded the grant. Hours worked should remain commensurate to program need. Federal supplement not supplant provisions remain in force.

If the afterschool program is relocated to alternate sites or buildings, please be sure it is in coordination with the school district as applicable, and that all programs (schools and non-schools) consult with their local health department on the best procedures for your area.

Q: Will there be virtual PD opportunities for staff during the school closings?

Q: What about After-School snacks or meals?

A: Continuity of food services, especially for students experiencing poverty, is an important factor that the NDDPI expects districts to consider before deciding to close school. The U.S. Agriculture Department is providing information about this. The NDDPI will work closely with affected schools regarding options for serving meals, should the need arise. The NDDPI has applied for waivers from the USDA to make it easier to serve meals.

Q: Will we be required to collect data during the school closure period?

A. Continue to maintain thorough records of daily hours and general work type by employee, just as you do during open school. The tracking of any lost program time, lower attendance results, lower expenditure patterns, and/or other outcome data will be collected as part of the end-of-year reporting process. Reasonable and fair accommodations will be made regarding any reduction in results.

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