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State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler has secured $33 million for North Dakota schools that was included in recent, sweeping federal legislation approved in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This money provides a tremendous relief source for schools and communities to address needs that have arisen due to COVID-19 as well as plan for the future.

Baesler said North Dakota school districts may apply for this relief funding through her office. Districts have broad discretion to use the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund money for school and community needs.

The Department of Public Instruction has developed an application process that cuts through any red tape, giving the local schools and communities quick, easy access to the ESSER funding and the flexibility to address their unique needs. The Department of Public Instruction has created a quick, streamlined application for districts to obtain their share of the grant funds, which is posted on the NDDPI website here: https://www.nd.gov/dpi/esser-funding

“School districts will be able to use these funds where they are needed most,” Baesler said. “The Department of Public Instruction will not micromanage how local school districts spend this money. Our local school boards and leaders know what their most pressing needs are.”

School districts are encouraged to reach out to families and their communities to obtain valuable feedback when considering how the ESSER funds could be best utilized. Some points to consider include the challenges schools will face in bringing students and staff back to the school buildings, the social, emotional and academic needs of each student that developed over the distance learning period, and the possibility of future disruptions in education and school operations.

North Dakota’s school buildings have been closed to in-person student instruction since March 16. Teachers have been providing student instruction by distance learning.

“All of our educators, child nutrition workers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, and custodians have been providing tremendous service during a time of significant disruptions in our educational system,” Baesler said. “Our families have taken on a new role in many of their children’s educations and been heroic in the efforts. We look forward to continuing our work with these partners to ensure that learning continues for our students during this national pandemic.”

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