Fargo Public School Board approves “Smart Restart” draft plan

The school year will now begin September 2nd instead of August 27th

FARGO, N.D. — After hours of deliberation, the Fargo Public School Board approved a Smart Restart plan for the upcoming school year. It also approved moving the school year’s start date from August 27th to September 2nd.

If there’s one certainty about the drafted plan, it’s that almost nothing about it is certain.

“Everything in this document can change,” said board member Jim Johnson.

The plan is a living document that some board members referred to as “a starting point.” It does not yet dictate how the school year will look, but instead lays out the options the district has.

The draft outlines five levels of potential scenarios of instruction, as well as an option for a separate Virtual Academy.

Explaining the Academy, Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rupak Gandhi said, “The best way to envision this is Fargo Public Schools has two different school systems running at the same time. You have a Virtual Academy for a group of students. That staff and group of students is independent, and no matter what happens with the in-person instructional model or the phased-in approach, the Virtual Academy would always run.”

Students can choose to attend the Virtual Academy for the fall semester or the full year.

For those who wish to opt out of the Academy, the five levels of the phased-in approach range from all distance learning to all in-person instruction. The approach includes hybrid options and varying levels of restrictions in between.

“Because we have over 20 schools in Fargo Public Schools of varying sizes, we have the flexibility to say that the entire district does not have to be at the same level at all times,” said Gandhi.

One of the biggest points of discussion between board members focused on how much in-person instruction the hybrid model allows.

Some members advocated for more face-to-face time for elementary school students. Others disagreed.

“We are pitting education against childcare,” said Vice President Robin Nelson. “That’s not the driving factor for their plan. It’s how they deliver education to the younger students.”

“We’re trying to provide education under the parameters of a global pandemic,” explained Gandhi. “We’re not trying to replicate or duplicate instruction as it was prior to COVID-19 happening.”

To decide which plan will be implemented, a COVID-19 Instructional Plan Committee will be meeting every two weeks to review data regarding COVID-19 cases in the community and make that determination.

The first meeting will take place August 10th.

Fargo Public Schools says more details, along with other items for the 2020–2021 school year, will be shared at a media conference on Friday from noon to 1 p.m.

The conference will be livestreamed via YouTube. Find the link by clicking here.


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