Gov. Doug Burgum issued an executive order Sunday. March 15. closing all K-12 schools in the state for one week.
The move was based on guidance from school superintendents, medical experts and the North Dakota Department of Health.
"Out of an abundance of caution, public and private schools will be closed March 16-20," a news release from the Governor's Office reads. "The decision was made in an effort to reduce the rate of infection and give the state an opportunity to gather more data, better assess testing and treatment capabilities and plan for education in the event of an extended COVID-19 pandemic. The situation will be reassessed at the end of the week."
Williston Public School District No. 1 decided on Friday not to extend the district's spring break, which is scheduled for this week. Other districts in the county had planned to be open. however.
Burgum said he and other state officials will consult with health care providers and school superintendents in the coming days.
“We remain in a state of calm and continue to base our decisions on fact, not fear,” Burgum said. “We want to work through the situation, gain understanding and make sure we’re driven by data and solid strategies.”
The move is an effort to protect students, Kirsten Baesler, state superintendent of Public Instruction, said.
“Students’ health and safety is our number one priority,” Baesler said. “We're working with North Dakota district superintendents and community leaders to do the best that we can for our students.”
Public health officials say the closure will help slow the spread of the novel Coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a disease that has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.
“Closing K-12 education is a proactive and aggressive approach to minimize community spread,” said State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte. “What we’ve learned this weekend from our medical advisors is that we need more time to ‘flatten the curve’ to slow the spread of COVID-19 so we don’t overwhelm the health care system."
State officials have the following recommendations:
Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that groups or individuals should cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more.
Stay home when you’re sick, cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands often.
Get plenty of rest, drink fluids, eat healthy foods and manage your stress to help prevent getting COVID-19 and recover from it if you do.
The Department of Public Instruction is working with the Department of Human Services Division of Behavioral Health to launch resources to help explain COVID-19 to children.
The state lab has tested 112 individuals for COVID-19, with one positive case from an individual who had travel history. If individuals have questions, they can call the NDDoH hotline at 1-866-207-2880 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.