WEST FARGO — Beth Slette, superintendent of West Fargo Public Schools, held an online event Monday, Aug. 3, to answer questions from parents and other community members regarding the district's plans for keeping students and staff safe during the coming school year.

The proposal, which the West Fargo School Board is scheduled to vote on Aug. 10, offers a hybrid model that includes on-site and virtual learning, as well as an option for virtual learning only, if families feel more comfortable with the latter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The district unveiled its "Return to Learn" plan Friday, July 31, and since then the district has received nearly 500 questions, according to Slette.

She said the answers to some questions were still being worked on, including questions about kindergarten assessments, the future of band and orchestra offerings and whether assessment tests, like the ACT, will be done.

Questions dealing specifically with district staff would be addressed during a separate event, Slette said.

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Under the proposed plan, according to Slette:

  • All back-to-school nights would be canceled.
  • Students would wear masks in hallways while moving between classes.
  • Families would be contacted regarding snow days, but all students would have instruction on snow days using online learning.
  • If a student uses both onsite and online learning, the aim will be to have the same teacher for both.
  • The last day of school is scheduled for Thursday, May 27, 2021.

Also under the plan, if a child or household member tests positive for the coronavirus, the child must stay out of school for the case's isolation period, 10 calendar days from onset, plus the child's quarantine period of 14 calendar days. Public health authorities will advise the parent as to how long the child will need to stay home from school.

Other details about the restart plan can be found on the schools' website.

Slette stressed that school officials want things to return to normal as soon as possible, but not at the risk of student or staff health.

A School Board meeting that following Slette's online session brought questions from school officials, including a question from one official who wanted to know why a plan emphasizing onsite instruction couldn't be put in place in West Fargo.

"We can, but what level of risk are you willing to take?" Slette said.

She added that the proposed plan aims for a moderate risk approach with a goal of doing what is best for students while also keeping employees safe.

School Board Member Kara Gravley-Stack said the proposal was unlikely to make everyone in the district happy, but to a large degree feedback she has heard has been positive.

Slette stressed that plan was the product of a cooperative effort among many in the school district.