WEST FARGO — The West Fargo School District will begin the 2020-2021 school year with options for students to attend both in-school classes with mostly online learning or complete virtual learning for families that are not comfortable with returning to the classroom.

Superintendent Beth Slette announced the hybrid model at a news conference on Friday, July 31. She said after sending out multiple anonymous surveys to the community and gathering input from more than 40 committee members, the district outlined a plan that will allow students to return to the classroom two days a week.

Starting Sept. 3, students with last names that begin with the letters A-K will attend school on Mondays and Tuesdays, while those with names that start with L-Z will attend Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be set aside for student programming and professional learning when needed. Each group of students using the hybrid model will attend class virtually three days a week.

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The district will provide transportation for students, Slette said.

School officials set up the divisional system alphabetically in an attempt to allow families to go to school together.

"We want to keep families together," Slette said. "Obviously, if we have children with different last names, we will do our best to work with those families."

The district sent a full plan in an email to parents late Friday morning that included a link to submit questions.

"We ask that you take the weekend to review this plan and share your questions, requests for clarification, and additional comments through this feedback form," district staff said. "Using one mechanism to solicit this information will help ensure that inquiries don't get lost in the shuffle."

Although it is lengthy, the district has done its best to answer as many questions as possible, Slette said.

The full plan includes encouraging parents and staff to take temperatures each morning of those going to school.

The district will require students, families and staff to wear their own masks to school. Students will be allowed to take them off in the classroom with teachers' permission when social distancing is possible.

The district will also take the following safety measures in each building:

  • Provide an electrostatic sanitation machine
  • Increase outdoor airflow through the ventilation system
  • Provide touchless hand sanitizer stations in common areas
  • Each classroom will have a spray bottle with disinfectant and rags
  • Plexiglass barriers will be placed in high traffic areas

Students or staff with a fever of 100.4 Fahrenheit or higher should not go to school and those with a fever must wait 24 hours to return to school. Those entering schools should also review a district-provided health checklist.

The district will encourage students to bring their own water bottles to school and will shut off water fountains. Students will eat in cafeterias, classrooms, or common spaces for breakfast and lunch but grab-and-go meals will be available on online learning days for students. Families will be able to pre-order and pick up meals for online learning students. Students doing distance learning can also pick up meals at select sites.

If a child or household member tests positive, 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.

Teachers will work five days a week, whether in person or virtually.

Slette said Friday there is no discussion at this time of extending the school year in 2021 due to the later start this year.

Slette answered additional questions from community members during a Facebook Live intervew, Monday Aug. 3. The recording can be found at www.westfargopioneer.com.

The West Fargo School Board also met Monday to approve the re-entry plan, which must be approved by the board and sent to the state education department.

Gov. Doug Burgum announced July 14 that schools must create a plan for re-entry in the fall but did not offer specific guidance on models.

Watch a video of the West Fargo Public Schools' press conference below.