Smart Restart Information

August 4, 2020

Grand Forks Public Schools continues preparations for the 2020-2021 school year. This school year, you will have the option to select face-to-face or remote learning for each of your students.


Information on both face-to-face and remote learning can be found below. Please carefully review that information.


On Wednesday, August 5th, you will be emailed a survey to indicate the learning option (face-to-face or remote) for each of your students. The survey window will close on Monday, August 10th at 11:59 p.m.


Additionally:

  • All students need reliable access to the internet at home in the event of learning remotely at any point during the 2020-2021 school year. 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 your information needs to be updated, please contact the main office at your student’s school.

  • Stay up-to-date on student vaccinations. The North Dakota Department of Health 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.


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.

Face-to-Face Instruction

The employees of Grand Forks Public Schools are excited to welcome students back to our school buildings beginning August 31st for students in Kindergarten-9th grades and September 1st for students in grades 10-12. We have been working throughout the summer cleaning and preparing our buildings for the start of school. In addition, dozens of employees have been working to build a comprehensive, multifaceted plan that allows engaging face-to-face instruction to occur in a clean and healthy environment. Each person will individually do their part to stay safe and healthy, and we will collectively implement measures to keep one another safe.


GFPS will continue collaborating with Grand Forks County Public Health on our plans for the upcoming school year. We anticipate that despite robust measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, individual classrooms and/or schools may temporarily close as positive cases arise. We will communicate immediately and directly with any student and family who may be affected, should a positive case arise.


Classroom(s) or school(s) that close for more than 72 hours will transition to sustained distance learning until safe to reopen. Individual classrooms may be able to cross over to distance learning even sooner than described. You may view teacher expectations for distance learning here to better understand what to expect if your student transitions to remote learning for an extended time period. Please see our GFPS Covid-19 Classroom and School Closure Matrix for more information on classroom or school closing procedures.


What to expect if you opt for FACE-to-FACE instruction for your student(s):

  • Increased safety procedures will be implemented at each building.

    • Your student will be expected to wear a mask during transition periods, in communal spaces, and when unable to remain physically distanced. This would include entering and exiting the building; during hallway passing time; in breakfast and lunch lines; during group work; and when working directly with a teacher.

      • Close contact is defined by the CDC as, “anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.”

      • After consulting with public health officials it has been determined that passing time, with masks in place, does not meet that standard.

    • Your student will be asked to clean their hands (hand washing or using hand sanitizer) when entering and exiting the classroom.

    • Your student will be asked to sanitize / wipe their shared working spaces and materials throughout the day.

    • Your student will keep personal supplies (paper, pencils, snacks, etc.) to themself.

    • Elementary classroom groups / cohorts will be kept intact with minimal intermixing between groups / cohorts.

    • Secondary courses will occur as a modified block schedule (ex: periods 1-4 day one; periods 5-8 day two) to reduce the number of daily transition periods. Middle school exploratory courses that typically meet every other day will remain on that schedule. Exact building schedules are still being developed.

    • Additional procedures / protocols surrounding traffic patterns, group sizes, building cleaning, physical education, and music procedures, etc. can be found in the district’s comprehensive District Learning and Health and Safety plans linked above.

  • School breakfast / lunch will be served daily in accordance with FDA guidelines. New procedures will accommodate physical distancing, eliminate self-service, and move from touch-pad to scanning at checkout. Students may be assigned to eat in rooms other than the lunchroom or commons areas to allow physical distancing. These locations will vary by school

  • Students will be provided an iPad (grades K-2) or Chromebook grades (3-12) to use AND take home daily. This will allow students and teachers to transition smoothly between face to face and distance learning as needed. Device protection plans are available for $20 to cover repairs caused by accidental damage or wear and tear (families qualifying for free and reduced may pay on a sliding scale). If you do not purchase the protection plan, you will be held liable for up to the full replacement cost of your device if damage were to occur. Families who currently do not have high speed internet access will be supported in obtaining it at home.

  • District-wide teacher priorities include establishing strong student relationships / social-emotional learning; teaching students digital competency skills so they can effectively learn both at school and home; and academic priority standards. Additionally, each student will be assessed in reading and math within the first four weeks of school as required by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

  • Grading: Rubrics and scales (4, 3, 2, 1) will be used to empower and guide learners for project-based work. Additional assignments and assessments may be scored based on the percentage of answers correct. Teachers will provide feedback to guide students towards mastery of priority standards. Rubrics and scales used at the secondary level will be converted to percentages to determine a student’s grade. Elementary teachers will report on academic progress through the use of the standards referenced reporting tool (report card). Grades will still be tracked and communicated to families via PowerSchool, SeeSaw, and other mechanisms. Note: Instruction during the spring of the 2019-2020 school year was disrupted by the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) and to acknowledge the unique challenges that students, their families, and teachers experienced the decision was made to not assign grades at the elementary level and to add inflations or bonuses to secondary grades. During the 2020-2021 school year, grades will be assigned at all levels without distance learning-related bonuses or inflation.

  • After-school Kindergarten-6th grade clubs, intramurals, and activities are discontinued until further notice. The exceptions are ENCORE and MASH, which will continue as usual with additional safety precautions.

  • Please drop-off and pick-up your student(s) no earlier than 10 minutes before class begins in the morning, and no later than 10 minutes after the school day. The exception is for students riding the bus, attending morning activities, or eating breakfast. Our custodians need this extra time to thoroughly sanitize teaching and learning spaces.

  • Competitive sports and activities for students in grades 7-12 will follow local and Eastern Dakota Conference guidelines for participation and competition. Decisions on practice, competition, and spectatorship will be made according to local and regional data and health official guidance.

  • You are expected to keep your student(s) home if they are displaying any COVID-19 related symptoms as defined by the NDDoH, OR if a member of their household or a close contact has been quarantined or has tested positive for COVID-19. Please note: we anticipate receiving guidance from the North Dakota Department of Health regarding exclusion information during the week of August 3rd. Information may change based on that guidance. We will also add information about any current travel restrictions from the CDC at that time.

  • You are expected to notify your student’s school immediately if your student has COVID-19-related symptoms, has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results, or is in self-quarantine because of their household or close contact’s COVID-19 status.

  • You are expected to pick your student(s) up from school immediately if contacted by school officials to do so due to COVID-19 symptoms, close contact, or emerging scenarios.

  • Contingency learning plans will be activated for students on an IEP, 504 plan, English Language learning plan, or receiving ancillary services when a classroom or school closes due to COVID-19 for longer than 72 hours.

  • Statement of Best Intentions: Despite taking every reasonable precaution, there is no guarantee that our schools, students and employees will be without risk as it relates to COVID-19. The virus will potentially be present on our buses, in our classrooms, and at our activities. In certain situations physical distancing is not fully achievable in a school setting. Our actions, as outlined in the comprehensive plan, cannot guarantee that any student or staff member will not come in contact with the virus or contract the virus.


Requests for enrollment in remote learning once the school year has started will be determined on section sizes and space availability. Individual circumstances will be taken into consideration and a waiting list will be compiled.

Remote Learning Instruction

Grand Forks Public Schools is proud to offer families the option to choose between face-to-face and remote learning for the 2020-2021 school year. There is no way to fully replicate teaching and learning that occurs in a face-to-face environment, however, we recognize that despite robust safety measures put in place in our schools, some families have extenuating circumstances that preclude them from sending their students back to school for face-to-face instruction as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. We have assembled the following information to help families make an informed decision on which approach is best for their student(s) this following school year.


What to expect if you opt for full time REMOTE LEARNING for your student(s):

  • Students will be provided an iPad (grades K-2) or Chromebook (grades 3-12). Device protection plans are available for $20 to cover repairs caused by accidental damage or wear and tear (families qualifying for free and reduced may pay on a sliding scale). If you do not purchase the protection plan, you will be held liable for up to the full replacement cost of your device if damage were to occur. Families who currently do not have high speed internet access will be supported in obtaining it at home.

  • Your student will be taught / coached by a licensed professional. Elementary (K-5) students will be assigned to a virtual classroom with like-aged students across the school system and will be taught by an elementary instructor. Instruction will focus on core coursework and standards. Specials (music, PE, art, etc.) will be intermixed weekly. Secondary (6-12) students will be enrolled in a virtual academy with online classes aligned with their registered coursework. Students enrolled in the virtual academy will be assigned a licensed secondary teacher-mentor who will facilitate their coursework and collaborate with content-specific teachers for additional student support, feedback, and assessment. Not every elective course may be available or replicable in an online classroom. Secondary students enrolled in full-time remote learning may still participate in co-curricular activities.

  • District-wide return to learning priorities include establishing strong student relationships / social-emotional learning; teaching students digital competency skills so students may effectively learn whether at school and home; and academic priority standards. Additionally, each student will be assessed in reading and math within the first four weeks of school as required by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. Your student’s assigned teacher will develop procedures to help you and your student best learn online, develop relationships with the teacher and peers as able, and take these assessments.

  • Your child will receive both synchronous and asynchronous instruction / support. This will vary depending on what is best for your student, content area, etc. Synchronous online learning: scheduled times when a class is required to meet online. Your student must attend these sessions unless illness or an emergency prevents them from doing so. In those instances, work must be made up just as expected during face to face instruction. Asynchronous online learning: utilizes systems that deliver, track, and manage classes or projects for learning at various times or preferred access times for learners. We suggest you work with your student to create a daily schedule when asynchronous work will be completed.

  • Synchronous Learning Expectations by Level. High School: Each student will engage in synchronous lessons, coursework, and/or meeting times a minimum of 20% of their learning time. The time and format will be determined and communicated to each student by the teacher. Daily attendance will be taken and a daily class schedule devised for each student. Total time spent on learning and completing projects / assignments will parallel face-to-face instruction. Additional meetings and individual connections will occur as necessary to ensure students are keeping pace with coursework. Middle School: Each student will engage in synchronous lessons, coursework, and/or meeting times a minimum of 20% of their academic learning time and will additionally engage in regular homeroom activities. The time and format will be determined and communicated by the teacher. Daily attendance will be taken and a daily class schedule devised for each student. Total time spent on learning and completing projects / assignments will parallel face-to-face instruction. Additional meetings and individual connections will occur as necessary to ensure students are keeping pace with coursework. Elementary School: Each student in Kindergarten-5th grade will engage in synchronous learning and/or meetings a minimum of 20% of their academic learning time. Students will additionally engage in weekly social-emotional learning activities. Additional meetings and individual connections will occur as necessary when new content is delivered and individual feedback required. Note: Each family will be provided updates to their student’s progress and expectations so they can help monitor at home. Families may also be provided access to student classwork to further monitor progress, depending on the platform used.

  • Grading: Rubrics and scales (4, 3, 2, 1) will be used when able to empower and guide learners for project-based work. Teachers will provide feedback to guide students towards mastery of priority standards. Rubrics and scales used at the secondary level will be converted to percentages to determine a student’s grade. Elementary teachers will report on academic progress through the use of the standards referenced reporting tool (report card). Grades will still be tracked and communicated to families via PowerSchool, SeeSaw, and other mechanisms. Note: Instruction during the spring of the 2019-2020 school year was disrupted by the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) and to acknowledge the unique challenges that students, their families, and teachers experienced the decision was made to not assign grades at the elementary level and to add inflations or bonuses to secondary grades. During the 2020-2021 school year, grades will be assigned at all levels without distance learning-related bonuses or inflation.

  • Specialized remote learning plans will be made with family input for students on an IEP, 504 plan, receiving English Language services, or other ancillary services. Specialized services and accommodations may differ from services provided through face-to-face instruction as many services cannot be replicated. If face-to-face instruction is identified as the most appropriate setting for your student and a documented medical condition is not driving your decision to enroll your student in remote instruction, enrolling in remote learning acknowledges altered specialized services and accommodations.

  • If you choose to enroll your student in remote learning, you are committed to that model of education for an extended time period. Elementary students may apply for re-enrollment at the end of the first (November 20th) and second (February 26th) trimester. Secondary students may apply for re-enrollment at the end of first semester (January 15th).


Requests for enrollment in face-to-face learning once the school year has started will be determined on section sizes and space availability.