DPS immunization campaign ongoing; hundreds still unvaccinated

Immunization updates are ongoing in the Dickinson Public School district as administrators try to avoid excluding non-immunized students from classes.

Immunization updates are ongoing in the Dickinson Public School district as administrators try to avoid excluding non-immunized students from classes.

Superintendent Doug Sullivan reported that, despite cooperation with the Southwestern District Health Unit, there remains “somewhere in the ballpark” of 175 to 200 students out of compliance with immunizations as required by updates to state law.

Initial estimates of students not meeting the required standards were about 400.

Sullivan said a compliance deadline will be set in January, after which students not immunized up to the standards of the law will be instructed to stay home.

“It’s a very frustrating situation that the school district is the enforcement agency for this matter,” he said. “It seems there could be a better location, because, according to the law, we’re required to have them in school, and now they can’t come to school if they don’t have their immunizations.”


Sullivan added that he hoped the Legislature could examine the issue more closely and find a different means of enforcement.

Of those remaining students to be updated, Sullivan said Southwestern District Health Unit has found that more than 100 are in high school, of which 36 are high school seniors.

Board Vice President Kris Fehr said she and the district’s other delegates to the North Dakota School Boards Association Convention in October were “shocked” when they discovered the updated responsibilities of school districts concerning immunizations.

Fehr said she hoped the community could remember the wider effects of non-immunization.

“Whether or not you have a belief that your child doesn’t need an immunization, you could be putting other students and staff at risk by bringing that particular germ to school and spreading it amongst other people,” she said. “I would hope people would think about the whole health of the town and the school district as they contemplate what’s happened and get their families immunized.”

Construction ongoing at new middle school

Work goes on at the construction site of the new middle school despite winter conditions.


Assistant Superintendent Vince Reep reported to the board that all cement work is planned for completion by the end of the calendar year.

“I was up there on Friday to see how those crews finally get adverse weather with three inches of snow, and they were pouring, using a boom truck, some piers,” Reep said. “They weren’t missing a beat.”

Steel will be brought to the site on Jan. 4, Reep said, adding that there will be a meeting this Wednesday with representatives from the firms working on the project, which include Mortenson Construction, Wells Concrete and architectural firm DLR Group.

Reep said the district will seek final approval for the school’s construction mock-ups that day and will be presented with the guaranteed maximum number by Mortenson, which will set the “pricetag” ceiling for construction fees.

He added that the guaranteed maximum has “come down quite a bit” in the last six months but cautioned that price will not be all-encompassing, as other costs, such as liability insurance, will add to the total.

The guaranteed number may give room for discussion about possible additions to the project, which Reep said could include things originally omitted due to the district “being prudent and cautious” in early planning.

Additions would be made within the existing budget, he said.


Board approves 2016-17 school calendar

Students and parents in DPS have a new school calendar for the 2016-17 school year.

The board approved a calendar Monday with slight alterations to the one used last year, but DPS Board President Sarah Ricks said it’s not too different.

“The main difference is that we’ve got a longer Easter break in this calendar,” Ricks said. “I think it’s going to be well accepted by the community.”

Classes would begin Aug. 24, 2016, in the new calendar, with a last day of school set for May 24, 2017 and graduation to follow on May 28. The board’s approval came with a comment that administrators should look at a possible Nov. 30 early release date.

The calendar itself is available for viewing on the district’s website.

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