BISMARCK — With Gov. Doug Burgum's COVID-19 emergency declaration set to expire Friday, April 30, North Dakota schools are starting to figure out guidelines for students and staff in terms of pandemic response.

North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said in a statement Tuesday, April 27, that schools are strongly encouraged to follow three guidelines: universal mask wearing, physical distancing and contact tracing.

"While (the Department of Public Instruction) is not, nor have we ever been, an authoritative or enforcement entity for any COVID-related orders, it is important to remember that the State Health Officer and Local Health Officers retain authority to issue isolation orders on a case-by-case basis for communicable diseases, as warranted," Baesler said in the statement.

Despite the recommendations, Bismarck's school board voted to get rid of their mask mandate for students and staff starting Tuesday, May 4.

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Bismarck Public Schools Superintendent Jason Hornbacher said during the meeting on Monday, April 26, the recommendation to remove the mandate partially came after seeing low active case numbers among students and staff, and more chances for staff to get vaccinated.

The North Dakota Department of Health's K-12 School Dashboard shows Bismarck's district has 32 students and 0 staff members with active cases as of Tuesday.

Officials from Fargo Public Schools, West Fargo Public Schools and Grand Forks Public Schools said the districts will continue to require masks for students and staff for the foreseeable future, unless health officials say otherwise.