Burgum allows "soft opening" of ND school facilities | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Burgum allows "soft opening" of ND school facilities

May 11, 2020

Governor Doug Burgum has issued an executive order that will allow for a "soft opening" of school buildings for summer activities.

Burgum says over 20,000 students utilized school buildings last summer for various learning programs - and this will give the state an opportunity to continue to make plans for students returning to school in the fall.

"This is about 1/6th of our normal capacity, so this is an opportunity to learn how we can open and how we can manage with smaller numbers, but still very significant numbers."

Kirsten Baesler is Superintendent of Public Instruction. She says local school districts may offer their summer programs provided they follow the Smart Restart guidelines.

"We collaborated with many, many partners to create these guidelines - and those partners include of course the Governor's office, the Department of Emergency Services, North Dakota Department of Health, our North Dakota Regional Education Association, and the K-12 Coordination Counselor."

Baesler says the group size limit will be 15 people or less for on-site programs. She says the programs will be offered starting June 1, and include summer school classes, extended school year programs, headstart and childcare programs, and others. She says standardized testing will also be allowed to take place.

Baesler added the executive order does not require schools to offer these programs on-site, and that they may continue with distance learning at their own discretion.