Weekly Update

Duluth Public Schools News April 29 2022

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear colleagues:

As we transition to May, there are several very important events of celebration, appreciation, and awareness. Starting on Monday, we will be celebrating National Teacher Appreciation Week. Additionally, May 1 is National Principal Appreciation Day, May 6 is School Lunch Heroes Day and May 11 is School Nurse Day.

I am deeply humbled as I try to find the words to fully express the deep gratitude and appreciation that I have for our teachers, our principals and assistant principals, our nutritional professionals and school nurses, especially over the past two years.

The work of all of these professionals has always been complex, but never so much as we have seen over the past 25 months. My appreciation also extends to the work ahead as we strive to meet the unfinished learning and mental health needs of our students in the coming years. I know that our families and community partners will be finding many ways to thank you in the coming days.

May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental Health is defined as how a person thinks, feels, and acts in regards to their emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It helps determine how we will handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Having good mental health is important at every stage of our lives. Additionally, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. Duluth Public Schools supports the mental health needs of our students in a variety of ways. Many of our support resources can be found on our linked mental health website.

When I think of the great work of our staff, and of mental health supports, I also think of the important work of our many community partners. Last night, I had the opportunity to attend a fundraiser for one of our community partners that provides supports for physically and sexually abused children, the First Witness Child Advocacy Center. This is just one example of the many ways that the full community of Duluth loves, supports and cares for our children. I feel extremely lucky to be part of such a child-centered community.

With deep gratitude and appreciation,

John Magas

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


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Denfeld Speech Team sent two student to state

Senior Tessa Schauer and Junior Madeline Watts did well at sectionals and made an appearance at the state tournament over the weekend.

Tessa took 1st place in Serious Drama at the Section 7AA tournament. This was her second Section 7AA championship win as she took first place in Serior Prose last year. Tess was also named to the MSHSL All-State Team this year and was recognized at the state tournament by the Minnesota Speech Coaches Association.

Madeline took 2nd place in the Serious Prose category at the Section 7AA tournament. She also made her second appearance at the state tournament this year.

Denfeld High School has had 35 years of consecutive State Speech appearances. Jill Lofald has coached the Denfeld team for 37 years.

The Depot STEAM Festival is May 14

Youth in grades K-5 are invited to a free fun-filled day of robotics, hands-on science experiments, art, music environmental learning, interactive activities, displays and more during The Depot STEAM Festival, Saturday, May 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Denfeld DNA robotics tea, Devildog FTC and Lego Robotics will both be at the event.

Visit z.umn.edu/DepotSTEAM for more information on the event.

Duluth East senior was National Merit Finalist

Andrew Sailstad (12) at East High School had advanced to become a National Merit Finalist in March, which makes up less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors! He is considered one of the highest-scoring PSAT entrants in the state and nation.

Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

KEY Zone has to limit number of spots due to staff shortage

Due to the nationwide shortage of employees, the K.E.Y. Zone program has to limit the number of spots available for our summer and school year programming. Once the program has secured more staff, it will enroll families from the waiting list in the order that they signed up. K.E.Y. Zone is a certified state program and we must follow student-to-staff ratios to stay in compliance along with being able to provide a safe care environment for all.

Families can be placed on a waiting list by calling the K.E.Y. Zone registration office at 218-336-8900 x2 or emailing mark.connor@isd709.org.

We are hiring K.E.Y. Zone Youth Specialists to support our programs. Please help us spread the word so that we can allow more youth to participate in our programs. We are accepting applications at www.duluthymca.org/jobs.

Duluth School Board approves Duluth Federation of Teachers and paraprofessionals contracts

The Duluth School Board approved a new contract for the Duluth Federation of Teachers and paraprofessionals during a meeting Tuesday, April 26.

Both the DFT contract and paraprofessionals contract includes a 2.25% raise for this year and next year.

“Teachers and paraprofessionals do so much for our students and families throughout the district. We are very happy that the Duluth School Board has approved their 2021-2023 contracts,” Superintendent John Magas said.

Contract changes also include changing to a twice-monthly pay schedule for employees starting July 1, 2022, or any year thereafter. This pay schedule is better aligned with the District fiscal calendar.

Teachers will also receive a one-time longevity and retention stipend in the amount of $600 for the 2021-22 school year.

“As a retired teacher, I know how important our teachers and paraprofessionals are and the hard work they do each and every day for our students across the district,” Board Chair Jill Lofald said. “It’s an honor for the entire board to approve these contracts and move our district forward.”

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District COVID-19 numbers

These numbers reflect positive COVID-19 cases by site. The total includes all self-reported positive cases based on the date the case was reported to the school district. Not every person who reported a positive case was in a district building while contagious. These numbers include at-home COVID-19 test kits.

The CDC and Minnesota Department of Health only report positive cases where the person was inside a school building while infectious. The department’s numbers do not include positive cases determined by an at-home COVID-19 test kit.

They do this because there is not a medical professional present to:

  • Confirm who is taking the test,

  • That the home test has not expired,

  • That a proper sample is taken and more.

The CDC and Minnesota Department of Health is also reporting numbers that are at least a week old. If you have questions regarding these numbers, feel free to send your questions to covidquestions@isd709.org.

Detailed updates are available from the Minnesota Department of Health and St. Louis County Department of Health.

Minnesota Weekly COVID Report

Minnesota Situation Update

St. Louis County MN COVID-19 Dashboard

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