Weekly Update

ISD 709 News 9/9/21

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families:

Welcome back! Nothing recharges those of us in education more than seeing our students return. Nearly all of our students started on Tuesday and our kindergarten students began today. Watching them arrive and helping them find their way to their classes is one of my favorite activities of the year. Most are very excited, despite a few teary goodbyes with our youngest students, as they launch into the year.

I chatted with a Denfeld student as he stepped off the bus. “This is cool, but it feels kind of weird," he said. “I was in distance learning last spring, so this is really my first time back in what seems like two years.” He took a breath, grinned and walked past the Denfeld Pep Band that was playing upbeat tunes to welcome our students.

His reaction seems to reflect what many people are feeling. There is a lot of excitement about being back, but it is mixed with some of the unexpected and unknown. A few months ago, we all were cautiously optimistic that we would have a fairly normal start to the school year. As the Delta variant has impacted COVID recovery, masks and other safety precautions have returned so that we can protect our need for safe in-person learning.

Last year, we knew we were returning to things that were “not normal." This year, staffing shortages in transportation, student nutrition, and maintenance have been a huge challenge for Duluth, like most districts across the country. Our appreciation for the individuals that support us in “making school happen” is greater now than ever before! We are also deeply appreciative of the patience that our students and families have had as we navigate the challenges that these shortages cause.

The joy of seeing a kindergartener stepping forward to be greeted by their teachers as their family members wave goodbye, entrusting their safety and learning to our great teams makes all of the hard work of preparing and overcoming obstacles so worthwhile!

With the 2021-22 school year underway, know that we look forward to so many positive days ahead with a deep sense of gratitude, respect and responsibility. Have a fantastic school year!

With appreciation,

John Magas

If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email:


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In The News

Several of our schools hosted media for students' first day back. Many thanks to Homecroft/Tom Cawcutt, Lincoln Park/Brian Kazmierczak and Duluth East/Danette Seboe for working with reporters on that busy day.

KQDS-TV21: Duluth ISD 709 Elementary Students Start School Year In-Person with Smiles, Masks

WDIO-TV10: Northland students embark on another unique year of school

CBS3-TV: Back to school: Duluth students return to class

KBJR-TV6: Duluth teachers prepare for in-person classes, new protocols

Star Tribune: In Duluth, first day of school brings joy, anxiety

Facilities Manager Dave Spooner took time to talk with the DNT about repairs to the Denfeld Clock Tower.

Duluth News Tribune: Denfeld clock tower gets needed attention after water damage last winter. The project to replace hundreds of bricks won't be completed until next summer, but residents saw the removal of the pyramid cap atop the tower.

Update: Transportation

As you may know, our school district experienced transportation challenges related to the first day of school. We are all doing our best to work through those challenges and greatly appreciate the patience and understanding of our families as we do so.

We are very fortunate to have a strong work force and value our Duluth Public Schools bus drivers, Voyageur bus drivers and our transportation staff.

While the majority of students are receiving transportation, we know that some families have been negatively impacted, having to temporarily find transportation for their children. We regret and apologize for that inconvenience.

The follow list is a response to some frequently asked questions:

  • The quickest way to check your child’s transportation status is in Infinite Campus Parent Portal. If you need help with Infinite Campus please contact your school. If you have a stop location, route number and time listed in Infinite Campus, your child is signed up to receive transportation. If there’s no information, you are not signed up.

  • It’s possible your child’s route may change as we process requests and we want you to be aware as soon as possible. If your child is currently signed up for transportation, we ask that you please check your school bus routes in Infinite Campus the evening of Tuesday September 14 to verify the bus routes for Wednesday September 15.

  • If your child was a distance learner last year their busing information was not automatically rolled over for this school year. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to contact your school and have them help fill out the transportation form. The soonest transportation will be available to your student is Wednesday September 15. We apologize for the delay, and the need for you to temporarily transport your child.

  • If you have requested a route change, for daycare or after school care, the soonest it would be implemented would be Wednesday September 15.

  • Requests for route changes will take a minimum of 3 to 5 days to implement.

We are always working hard to recruit additional drivers, but like many districts throughout the country, we are facing a shortage. If you, or someone that you know, is interested in joining and serving with our great driving team, please visit our human resources website to apply.

Update: Safe Learning Plan

This week the Safe Learning Plan was updated to include requests for Shortened Quarantine and information regarding Quarantine Exception. The SLP was also updated to include additional information regarding masking and exemption requests. Check pages 4, 5 and 6 for the updated information.

Details at www.ISD709.org/SafeLearningPlan

Help Students Learn A Career

The ISD 709 Construction Technology class seeks potential building projects in the line of sheds, garages or other possibilities for the 2021-22 school year.

Please contact the instructor Anthony.Leone@ISD709.org or leave a phone message at 336-8845 ext 4082.



NEW! Duluth Community Education Course Catalog

Duluth Community Education provides opportunities for all ages through classes and activities serving people’s social, recreational, enrichment and academic needs.

Learn to make beeswax wraps, a gingerbread house, Sami inspired bracelets, paper, fused glass ornaments. Take a cooking, drawing, beginner crochet, amigurami or creative writing class; learn swing, belly or ballroom dancing; take a yoga, extreme hip hop aerobics, CPR/AED or meditation class. Learn French or sign language, take banjo or ukelele lessons; aqua fitness, swim lessons, much more.

Register for classes online using VISA, MasterCard or Discover.

View the Fall 2021 Online Catalog

Register for Classes Online

Help Recruit New Hires!

Duluth Public Schools provide rewarding regular and substitute jobs in a variety of roles. Plus a robust benefit package to full-time employees and part-time employees who meet eligibility requirements. Please share this information with people you know - encourage them to join our team!

Current Job Openings

Questions? Email: noncerthr@isd709.org or call (218) 336-8722

Duluth East Senior Published in Peer-Reviewed Journal

From the Duluth News Tribune: Natalie Miller, a senior at Duluth East, has had her essay "Too Strong For a Woman: How Bernice Sandler Created Title IX to Break Barriers for Female Faculty in Higher Education," published in "The History Teacher," a peer-reviewed journal for educators.

Photo: Duluth News Tribune


Happy New (School) Year!

A beautiful day to welcome students for the first day of school, always good to see children, teachers and staff in our buildings, to connect with families through open house events. Many thanks to our ISD 709 staff for all the work they do preparing for the first day, and to families for all they do to support their child's education.

Thank you Superintendent Magas and Assistant Superintendent Bonds, for the photos from Denfeld High School, Lincoln Park Middle School and Laura MacArthur Elementary. Thank you, Ordean East Middle School and Myers-Wilkins Elementary for the open house photos.

#Inspire709 #FirstDay #Welcome

Denfeld, Duluth East Activities

A busy start for our high schools, love the school spirit!

A few highlights:

  • Welcome to first-year Denfeld volleyball head coach Cienna “CJ” Strother. Denfeld defeated nonconference Hibbing in volleyball.
  • Duluth East Greyhounds enjoyed a season-opening home football victory, also against Hibbing.
  • Denfeld boys soccer won against Princeton.

#Inspire709 #GoHunters #GoHounds



Community Conversation

You're invited to participate in a conversation exploring SRO effectiveness, hosted by

Marnita's Table. The events are free and include dinner, RSVP to let us know you're coming:

sammie@marnitastable.org or call 612-928-7724.

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