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N.D. Superintendent Kirsten Baesler discusses K-12 Smart Restart


State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler breaks down local school district's options for getting guidance from the state during COVID-19 K-12 reentry

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler joined Good Day Dakota to discuss North Dakota’s K-12 Smart Restart Plan.

North Dakota is giving local districts the freedom to decide how to implement instruction models, but what should local districts do if their county or specific school buildings see a rise in COVID-19 case numbers? How should they look to the Department of Public Instruction for guidance?

Baesler explained that the K-12 Smart Restart guidelines published in mid-July are the basic directions North Dakota expects all local districts to follow during the pandemic. Baesler explained that a team at the Department of Public Instruction has been building a host of resources for local districts to utilize if their local area should see a surge in case numbers.

Baesler continued by saying that the department has also recently gathered many of the best teachers across the state to create “exemplars” or models for engagement and attendance during the pandemic. Those resources are set to be published in mid-August.

Equity is critical for all students when planning distance learning. So how should teachers help students who struggle with distance learning?

“For those situations where distance learning will be required, and let’s be frank and let’s be honest, there will be disruptions. I doubt we will ever have a statewide disruption of education, but school districts may need to consider closing certainly some building a classroom at a time as we get COVID cases confirmed. So, as we move into those disruptions it will be important that our school districts will have plans in place to ensure that those who struggle who might be on Individual Education Plans, that we call IEPs in our education world or even those that just struggle with distance learning or might not have the family support at home to support distance learning as others, that those plans are in place to ensure that those students too will have the support that they need from caring teachers,” explained Baesler.

The Superintendent expanded by explaining that education, in general, is moving away from the traditional classroom structure and trending towards increased personalized instruction, regardless of the pandemic. Baesler is in favor of the trend.

It is an election year, and Superintendent Baesler is facing Underwood School District Superintendent Brandt Dick for her office on November third.

“I think it’s important for the people of North Dakota to understand that as the State Superintendent that I’m elected to serve all constituents of North Dakota, and primarily our students and families that we serve. That’s why education exists and that’s what I have strived to do for the last eight years and that’s what I hope to do for another four years. I’m not just single-minded, I listen to all constituents through my family cabinet, my student cabinet, my administrators’ cabinet, and then I represent those views as we make decisions with our legislators.” finished Baesler.

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