ISD709 News 9/30/21

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families:

As we head into Fall and into a new month, it is definitely a time of transitions. I started this morning at 6:45 with a group of colleagues from Historic Old Central High School who gathered to watch the sunrise near the lift bridge, drinking coffee and commemorating our final days in the building, as most of us are transitioning to our temporary home at the UnitedHealth Group building on Rice Lake Road next week.

Admittedly, it is a bittersweet time. While we know that, from a financial standpoint, it is the right thing to do for the district, it is hard to leave such an iconic building that has been part of Duluth’s educational landscape, both literally and figuratively since it was built in 1892. We know that the students and families of Duluth, as well as the community as a whole will benefit from this move.

In 2019, the District received a feasibility report outlining the significant investment needed to address deferred maintenance issues, totaling over $48.5 million. The District then embarked on a thorough planning process to bring options to the school board. A recommendation was made to list the property in order to ensure that a responsible reuse and redevelopment of the building would occur. The sale of the building and building of a much more modest site will mean that millions of dollars that would have been put toward maintaining the building can be dedicated towards supporting our students' educational needs.

Preserving the historic character of the building and the neighborhood, has also been a key priority for the district and we are confident that Saturday Properties will not only be a good steward of the landmark, but it will also contribute to the economy and future of our Central Hillside.

On Sunday night, I climbed the clock tower to take this picture of the bells (below) that we have become so accustomed to hearing. May the bells continue to toll for generations to come.

With appreciation,

John Magas

If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email: ReturnToLearn@ISD709.org

Big picture

Update: Safe Learning Plan

As the COVID pandemic continues, our schools continue to review and update response to ensure health and safety. The Safe Learning Plan reflects current local planning and is subject to change based on local, state and national guidance.

Recent Updates:

  • Currently, masks are required for all students age 2 and older, ISD 709 employees and the public unless medically exempted, regardless of vaccination status. Beginning Monday 10/4, this will include during indoor Phy. Ed. classes for grades Pre-K through 8 as the majority of students in elementary and middle school do not yet have access to the COVID vaccine. (Page 4).
  • Language related to lunchrooms was added re: notification of a positive case and guidance as to whether quarantine is necessary (Page 5).

Details at www.ISD709.org/SafeLearningPlan

State and County Data:

Minnesota Weekly COVID Report

Access St. Louis County MN COVID-19 Dashboard

CDC COVID Vaccine Booster Information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that certain populations receive a COVID booster shot. The recommendation is for those who completed their Pfizer vaccine series at least 6 months ago.

Detailed information is available on the CDC website and please contact your health care provider if you have questions.

Symptoms? Please Keep Children Home

If your child is showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19, we are asking that you please keep them home and get tested - or consult your healthcare provider for an alternative diagnosis as we are still seeing strep, influenza, and RSV circulating around the state and our area.

It is imperative that children remain home when symptomatic to help us protect the integrity of in-person learning. We thank you for your help in keeping our school community safe.

COVID19 Signs & Symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • New cough or a cough that gets worse
  • Difficulty/hard time breathing
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion/stuffy or runny nose
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Extreme fatigue/feeling very tired
  • Severe/very bad headache
  • Chills

Thank You, Duluth Public Schools Facilities Staff

October 2 is National Custodial Worker's Recognition Day, lifting up appreciation to the employees who keep our schools and workplaces across the nation running smoothly.

Many thanks to all the people who work diligently each day to maintain our Duluth Public School facilities and especially for the important role they play in response to the pandemic.

#Inspire709 #SchoolHeroes


Thank You, Duluth Principals

October is National Principals Month, recognizing the vital role of school leaders in supporting families and students. Duluth Public Schools principals have gone above and beyond as we work to bring our district and community through a time of intense challenge and change. Thanks to all Duluth Principals for the work you do each day to support students, families, teachers and staff and for your ongoing leadership and collaboration.


We Need School Bus Drivers!

Like most districts, we're in urgent need of more school bus drivers. If you know a school bus driver looking for work, someone with a CDL license, or a valid drivers license with a good driving record who could be trained, or a retired driver who might be willing to work this school year, please send them our way.


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

Update: HOCHS Move to UHG in October

It's getting real, folks! HOCHS staff will begin moving into the UnitedHealth Group temporary lease space in October.
  • The move to UHG is expected to be completed by the end of October.
  • At this time it's expected that phone numbers will remain the same.
  • During the move, our Technology Department will be extra busy setting up the infrastructure, as well as moving themselves, so there may be a slight delay in answering support needs,
This month the School Board decided to move forward with the Tech Village location as a better option for the ALC/AEO group.

Monthly progress reports are posted at www.ISD709.org/Property

Free Tutoring Available

Free tutoring for K-12 students is available through the CSS/ISD 709 Tutor Program.

We have tutors in a variety of grade levels and subjects. They've completed training and are ready to work with Duluth students!

Click here to book tutoring appointments.

  • Once there you will be able to choose the grade level needed, the content, the tutor and the time they are available.
  • Once you book a tutoring session you will receive an email with the details of your appointment.
  • Appointments are online. A link to the video conference session will be sent with the email.

If you have any questions please feel free to email Beth LaVigne blavigne@css.edu

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Lowell Elementary Hosts Former MN Supreme Court Justice (and MN Viking) Visit

Students & staff welcomed former Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice and Minnesota Viking Alan Page to Lowell Elementary this week.

Justice Page visited classrooms to read to students, answer questions and talk about the importance of education in reaching one's goals.

Justice Page sought election to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992 and won, becoming the first African American on the court and one of the few associate justices ever to join the court initially through election, rather than appointment by the governor. Justice Page was also a first-round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings in 1967 and he played for the Vikings until 1978. During his career, he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, becoming only the second defensive player in history to be named MVP. In 1988 Alan Page was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In November 2018, Justice Page received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Thank you, Justice Page, for the visit and for your inspiration. Great job, Lowell students and staff!