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BPS superintendent addresses decision to delay full return of students in grades 6-9

Bismarck Public Schools
Bismarck Public Schools(KFYR-TV)
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 1:02 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Here is a message from Bismarck Public Schools Superintendent Jason Hornbacher regarding the decision to delay the return to school of 6th-9th graders:

Dear BPS Constituents,

There have been questions related to Bismarck Public School District’s decision to delay the return of 6th through 9th grade to daily, faced-to-face instruction. The Governor’s decision to move Burleigh County to Orange or High Risk included the idea that schools were to function independently from the county color or risk designation. The BPS Instructional Model is not tied to the color code for Burleigh County. However, public education is a collective part of a community, it is to function in partnership with society, and collaboratively with business and industry, in unison with families, and side by side with healthcare. It is unrealistic to believe education can function as an island upon itself and not be affected by our surroundings.

Schools continue to be a safe place for students and staff, and transmission rates within schools are not the issue. Bismarck Public Schools wants our students back in schools and we are steadfast in this commitment. We require a mask to be worn unless 6-foot social distancing can be maintained. The decision to delay the full return of BPS students in grades 6-9 was based on many factors; here are the most important reasons:

  • Transmission rates in schools are not the issue as COVID positive cases can be linked to activities within the community. However, the more cases in Bismarck, the more it impacts the students and educators of Bismarck Public Schools. This reality really impacted BPS earlier this week.
  • On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week BPS quarantined four classrooms. This was not because the kids or teachers contracted COVID from a school. These four classroom quarantines played a major role in the delay of 6th through 9th grade returning to school face-to-face full-time.
  • Finding substitute teachers is highly problematic and this week has been difficult. BPS is actively seeking substitute teachers and instructional aides to help us keep the doors of our schools open.

BPS continues to monitor how COVID is impacting our students, staff and buildings and is working diligently to get our students back in school. Secondary schools are revising plans to address student learning needs and will correspond these plans with their parents by the middle of next week. It is essential that we work together and understand that nothing about this pandemic is one-dimensional.  Take great care of yourself and your loved ones.

Jason Hornbacher

Superintendent

Bismarck Public Schools

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