State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said she will not require North Dakota schools to close for two days during the 2021-22 school year, which she said will give school districts more options in planning their upcoming school year.

“Local school boards have long been granted broad discretion in setting their school calendars,” Baesler said. “Given the current public health crisis, this discretion has proven to be even more important than ever. Additionally, the pandemic has spurred creative ways to deliver professional development enabling all educators to participate remotely from locations across North Dakota. “

On October 14, 2020, the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders (NDCEL) requested October 20-22, 2021, be designated as days a school district may not schedule school-sponsored, school-directed, or school-related activities, including instruction time.

“After giving the matter the utmost consideration, I am declining to exercise the authority to declare any days in conflict of a professional development conference under NDCC § 15.1-06-04.1.  This decision will give our school districts added flexibility in developing their 2021-22 school calendars during these unprecedented times,” Baesler said.

School districts continue to have the option of creating their calendars to allow their teachers or administrators to attend the NDCEL Fall Conference for professional development days, but for the forthcoming school year NDCC § 15.1-06-04.1 will not be exercised to prohibit school districts from scheduling, sponsoring, or directing other school activities or instructional time during those conference days.

“This potential for calendaring instruction and school activities on these days has been made all the more workable because NDCEL’s Fall Conference, like so many conferences, is now being provided with a virtual option in October 2021 with a broad window of opportunity for attendees to complete the virtual offerings -- eliminating the time and cost of travel, and thus offering teachers and administrators the opportunity to serve their students and also obtain professional education,” Baesler said.