Parents asking for stricter COVID mitigation efforts in Bismarck Public Schools

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 5:29 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - UPDATE (9/22 at 4 p.m.): Bismarck Board of Health pitches mask issue to Bismarck School Board

A group of parents and community members are pushing for stricter COVID-19 guidelines in Bismarck Public Schools. This school year, masks are optional in Bismarck Public Schools. However, with the rising cases of COVID-19 in the state, many parents have expressed their concern over what they’re calling a lack of mitigation efforts district-wide.

Masks are recommended, but not required, and parent Karen Dunlap said it seems like nobody is wearing them.

“I can ask my kids to wear a mask, but they’re kids. They’re going to be subjected to bullying and peer pressure to not wear masks,” said Dunlap.

So, Dunlap and about 60 other members of the BPS Parent and Community Coalition for COVID-19 Safety in School organized a letter, asking for the Bismarck Board of Health to intervene and require the school board to follow CDC guidance and enforce mask wearing.

“Not only are they not doing the right thing, they’re specifically doing the wrong thing by not following CDC guidance,” said Dunlap.

City Commissioner Nancy Guy has called a meeting of the Bismarck Board of Health to discuss the letter Wednesday.

“I felt the parents and the concerned community members deserve a discussion of who has the authority to do what they’re requesting. It’s not the city commission, it’s the school board,” said Guy.

Bismarck School Board President Jon Lee said masks remain a community issue, not specific to the schools.

“To ask us in turn to discriminate against our public school kids, especially when cohorts in private schools, their parents, and the community aren’t forced to wear a mask each day, it’s tough,” said Lee.

Dunlap said the group who organized the letter has about 250 members.

The Bismarck Board of Health meeting is Wednesday at noon in the City/County Building.

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