New Rockford Transcript - Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

3/19/20: Gov. Burgum issues several executive orders aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19

 

March 16, 2020



In a Thursday afternoon press conference, Gov. Burgum issued several directives aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus.

An additional 12 cases have been confirmed in the state, including two documented cases of community spread, in the past 24 hours. The total of positive cases now sits at 19.

In light of this information, Burgum took serious steps to keep our communities safe. First, he ordered all bars, restaurants and dining establishments across North Dakota to be closed to all dine-in and on-sale patrons from tomorrow, March 20 to April 6. Burgum encouraged business owners to offer take out, delivery and curbside pickup options to serve their customers. All recreational facilities including theaters, health clubs and gyms are also ordered closed as part of the order.

Burgum urged tribal leaders to also close their facilities, recognizing that as sovereign nations they alone have the authority to make those decisions.

He also restricted access to all state-operated public buildings through April 6. He stressed that state agencies are “open for business,” and said staff is working remotely. Residents are asked to contact state agencies via phone, email or other electronic means.

A separate executive order suspended regulations related to the licensing of health professionals. If licensed to practice in another state, professionals are able to work in North Dakota.

Regarding schools, Burgum issued an executive order that allows age-appropriate distance learning to count towards meeting instructional learning hours. He directed that school districts maintain mandatory restricted access to N.D. K-12 schools until further notice. He granted a waiver for school buildings to close for another seven days in addition to the five already granted, for a total of 12 educational days. The state will provide funding so schools can continue to pay their staff during this time. School districts are asked to continue planning in the event of further closure. According to Burgum, it costs $8 million a day in state money to keep schools open; therefore, a total of $96 million has been spent to close schools for 12 days.

All school districts have effectively been given two full weeks to prepare and submit innovative education plans by March 27. Districts whose alternative plans are approved will begin implementing their plans starting April 1. Burgum said this is an opportunity to use whatever means necessary to deliver education, including using “good old fashioned” books and electronic devices.

“Let’s really figure out a way to take care of all our students” including the 10,000 seniors who expected to graduate in 45 days, Burgum said.

The full executive orders are available on the Governor's website: https://www.governor.nd.gov/executive-orders

 
 

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