Update on Preparations for 2020-2021 School Year

Posted by Tracy Jentz on 7/8/2020 3:05:00 PM

As part of our state of preparedness, Grand Forks Public Schools has commissioned a School Reopening Plan Committee, led by Superintendent Dr. Terry Brenner. This group is creating a plan for the 2020-2021 school year based on guidance from public health officials, state agencies, and national organizations. It will continue to be updated this summer as the pandemic continues to evolve.

What We Know

  • We are planning to hold elementary and middle school summer school in our buildings beginning in late July. Specific information will be shared with those families soon.
  • We plan to begin school in our buildings on August 26th, 2020 for Kindergarten-9th grades and on August 27th for 10th-12th grades.
  • Our scenarios for the 2020-2021 school year are adaptive depending on local and state conditions. We are planning for some level of restrictions to occur throughout the school year. As suggested by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), we are preparing for several possible learning scenarios, including:
    • Scenario 1: All students in our buildings.
      • There will be a large focus on safety, sanitation, and social distancing.
        • We will regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces according to industry-standard operating procedures.
        • Consistent times and procedures will be established throughout the day for hand hygiene.
        • Our Buildings and Grounds employees measured the space of each classroom. Using a formula, the maximum capacity for each classroom has been determined. 
        • The use of masks may be required when physical distancing measures cannot be maintained. More information will be provided when we receive additional guidance.
    • Scenario 2: Remote learning for all schools.
      • All students would learn virtually from home.
      • This scenario would be used if COVID-19 community spread is occurring in Grand Forks County.
      • We would transition back to Scenario 1 when conditions are deemed safe.
    • Scenario 3: Intermittent remote learning.
      • This may be needed if we have several cases of COVID-19 within a school setting and need to close the building for deep cleaning for some period of time. This may also be used if cases of COVID-19 increase in our community and it is not advised/ allowed to have school within our buildings.
  • Our first priorities for the 2020-2021 school year will be academic instruction and having a framework in place to address social and emotional learning (SEL). 
    • Additionally, we will address learning loss, prioritizing literacy and math skills; provide support services for students, families, and employees; teach students how to learn effectively whether face-to-face or remote; and ensure equitable access to technology if the need for remote learning arises.
  • We will ensure we have met the “Health and Safety Logistics” and planned re-entry based on North Dakota K-12 Smart Restart Guidance (dated May 2020).
  • We will incorporate future guidance from state leaders.
  • We will continue to monitor daily notices from the North Dakota Department of Public Health (NDDoH) regarding confirmed cases and spread in Grand Forks County.
  • We will continue to work with the Grand Forks Public Health Department to ensure we have safe and healthy learning environments for our students and families.
  • We will avoid large group gatherings.
  • We will maintain social distancing on buses by reducing the maximum number of riders.
  • We have implemented guidelines for coaches and students practicing this summer to adhere to.
  • We have developed COVID-19 reporting procedures for prompt identification and isolation of any ill employee. We will do the same for students.
  • We will work directly with the families of students who are medically fragile and have a higher risk of severe illness, in addition to students receiving special services, on a case-by-case basis to address their specific needs.
  • We will do our best to maintain programs and clubs that are vital to the physical, mental, and social well-being of our students.
  • Current district procedures for registration, enrollment, and transfer requests will apply regardless of the learning environment we are using.
  • Depending on future restrictions, students and employees may be screened for recent travel, which could require a 14-day quarantine.

What We Do Not Know Yet

  • When we will receive future guidance from state leaders, and what that guidance will be.
  • If the North Dakota High School Activities Association (NDHSAA) will allow activities.
  • If we will allow facility rentals by groups outside of our school system this upcoming school year.
  • Some classes may need modifications if social distancing is not feasible or when there is an increased risk for spreading the virus (ex: band, choir). We will work with students and families to ensure information is shared and alternative options may be considered.

What We Need You to Do

    • Please ensure you have access to a thermometer at home for student/employee health screening practices. More information will be emailed to you prior to August 26th.
    • As we prepare for the possibility of remote learning, all of our students need reliable access to the internet at home. For those families who do not have access, please visit www.Midco.com/Lifeline and apply for the Lifeline Assistance program.
      • This program makes the internet affordable for low-income households for as low as $5.70/month. If you’ve tried to get Lifeline assistance before and were rejected, please apply again.
      • If you do not qualify for Lifeline, you can sign up for Midco Internet Basics for $14.95/month, including a modem lease.
    • Ensure your contact information in PowerSchool is up-to-date. If information needs to be updated, please contact the main office at your school after July 27, 2020.
    • Stay up-to-date on your student’s vaccinations. The NDDoH reported a decrease in the number of vaccinations administered during COVID-19. You can find more information about which vaccines are required for school at health.nd.gov/immunize.
    • It is important to continue safety precautions throughout the summer, including social distancing, wearing masks in public settings, etc. Each of these steps helps to reduce transmission and keep the number of cases low, which would allow us to resume in-person learning in late August.


  • Tomorrow (Thursday, July 9th), our families will be emailed/texted a “Return to School” survey. Please complete the survey as soon as you are able, as it will assist us as we continue planning.


    • Our employees completed a “Return to School” survey this past week, and we are reviewing the information now.

We will continue to provide updates this summer as more guidance and information becomes available. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all work together to plan for the upcoming school year while keeping our students, families, and employees healthy.