Weekly Update

ISD 709 News September 3, 2021

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families:

We are about to embark on an amazing new school year this next week and the air is heavy with excitement and anticipation.

So much has gone into the preparations to welcome our students back. I want to send a huge thank you to each and every one of you, our students, our families and our staff. From our entire leadership team at central office, as well as our school leaders, we have been hard at work throughout the summer to be ready to begin his next week.

Families have restructured their schedules and calendars to support their students and have dealt with the many stressors that have come as we enter into a new year that still presents some challenges due to the pandemic. We appreciate your support and flexibility and assure you that we are ready to safely welcome our learners back to their classrooms.

Students are looking to the new year with a mix of feelings as well. We saw many smiling eyes on their faces as they came to our open houses and welcoming events these past few days, but we also know that we have some coming with additional learning and emotional needs. We have additional supports and structures in place to receive them where they are at and to help them learn and grow to their fullest potential.

As I mentioned in an email to all staff this week, our educators, leaders, and other staff have engaged deeply in professional learning this week and throughout the summer to gain new skills and increase their capacity to serve our students and families. We stand ready and are thrilled to have our learners return.

Finally, I am also so thankful for the many staff members who have been working hard throughout the entire summer to ensure that we are ready for this new beginning. Our facilities crews have completed countless projects to construct, clean and maintain our learning environments. Our child nutrition and our transportation teams served countless meals throughout the summer and delivered our students safely to school. They are poised to continue that vital work on Tuesday and throughout the year. Our technology team has distributed thousands of devices and we launch our Blended Learning initiative. Our human resources, payroll and finance teams have worked tirelessly to make sure that we have a world class workforce and that they, and our schools have the resources that they need. Our clerical staff, communications team, and print shop have strived to clarify all the information that is needed in these changing times.

I hope that each of you has a wonderful long weekend. And, as I like to say, “Happy New Year!” Welcome to an amazing 2021-22 school year!

With deep respect and appreciation,

John Magas

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


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Welcome Students & Families

Happy New Year!

  • School starts September 7, 2021 for Grades 1 - 12

  • Kindergarteners begin school September 9, 2021

>>General 2021-22 Back to School information is being posted at ISD709.org/BackToSchool

>>School specific information comes from your school from mid to late August.

>>Families new to Duluth Public Schools, who have not yet enrolled their child, are encouraged to do so as soon as possible at ISD709.org/Enroll

#Inspire709 #NewSchoolYear

In The News

Duluth News Tribune: Duluth's in-person school plan relies on responsible choices

From the editorial: "Kids, wear your masks and wear them properly. ... Parents and guardians, please insist on this. It’s a minor inconvenience and sacrifice we all can be willing to make. The upside is huge..."

KQDS-TV21: Duluth Public Schools Push for Academic Recovery Programs Amid State Test Results

WDIO-TV10: Incoming teachers share hopes for the new school year.

Duluth News Tribune: Duluth Public Library makes it easier for students to check out resources.

Staff Development Day

Many thanks to all who worked to create a robust, engaging ISD 709 Staff Development Day this week and to all who participated! As staff members of ISD 709, we are all part of a larger educational team that values growth and continuous improvement to help us develop our skills to achieve student success.

The August 31 activities were designed around the 2021-22 District Operational Plan which is intended to provide a unified and focused approach in supporting students, families, and staff with engaging educational practices during the post-pandemic transition.

On behalf of our Senior Leadership Team, we want to thank our school leaders, coordinators, managers, and directors for leading the work at our schools and sites. And thanks to all ISD 709 employees for your dedication to our students and district. We appreciate all the work that is going into the start of an amazing school year!

Thank you, Jen Larva, for the photos.

PORT CARDS for Students

Sign Up for a FREE PORT CARD - Great Student Resource! Easy to Use. Impossible to Lose.

A PORT CARD is an electronic library card that gives ISD709 students FREE access to books, ebooks, audiobooks, and databases. The card enables students to:

  • Borrow up to 5 books or materials for FREE from the Duluth Public Library.
  • Borrow up to 10 ebooks or audiobooks for FREE from the Duluth Public Library.
  • Access Duluth Public Library online databases for research.
  • No physical library card required. Students check out books & materials with their Student ID number.
  • No financial risk.

Check the PORT CARD FAQ Page for details.

Sign up here for a PORT CARD

Duluth School Board Recognition

Aubrie Hoover, Public Health Educator for St. Louis County Public Health & Human Services, received recognition and appreciation from the Duluth School Board for her service to Duluth students and families in response to the pandemic.

It is important that everyone in our school community take steps to reduce COVID-19 transmission so students can learn in-person, full-time this year. Doing so in a thoughtful, strategic way requires reaching out to people with experience, training and expertise in public health. Ms. Hoover is one such professional, generously sharing her knowledge and providing guidance on an almost daily basis.

Ms. Hoover works in partnership with our COVID Lead Crystal Diehl. They consult with Superintendent Magas. They attend meetings to provide public health information to staff and families. They assist us in making tough decisions under often challenging conditions.

They continue to closely monitor the situation and review information as it comes from the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. And they help us understand and incorporate that information into what we do.

Ms. Hoover's service and support for our schools, students, families and staff are deeply appreciated. Thank you for your ongoing work to ensure what we do keeps our schools and community safe.

#Inspire709 #CommunityPartnerships

Safe Learning Plan Update

Please see below, a brief overview of updates to the ISD 709 Safe Learning Plan related to the start of the new school year. Details are available at ISD709.org/SafeLearningPlan.

We want to do all that we can to provide safe, effective in-person learning as a district and community this school year. We heard very strongly from our students, families and staff that our students need in-person instruction.

These COVID protocols, including mask wearing and encouraging vaccinations for those 12 years and older, are tools that can help keep local COVID rates down and ensure in-person learning this school year. Many health organizations are recommending mask wearing in schools, including but not limited to: The Centers for Disease Control, American Association of Pediatricians, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Chapter of the Association of Pediatricians and St. Louis County Department of Health.

  • Duluth Public Schools will begin the school year with students in-person 5 days a week.
  • At this time, distance learning PK-8, as well as hybrid learning format are not being offered in the 2021-22 school year.
  • Students Grades 9 - 12 who desire distance learning are encouraged to enroll in ISD 709’s Academic Excellence Online High School. Learn details at ISD709.org/AEO.
  • Mask wearing will continue to be required for students age 2 and older, ISD 709 employees and the public in all ISD 709 buildings as the school year begins.
  • Children under 2 years of age or people of any age who are unable to tolerate wearing a face covering because of a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability are exempted.
  • Vaccinations for COVID-19 for those 12 and older are strongly recommended and encouraged, but are not currently required by the school district.
  • Information on Saint Louis County vaccine clinics can be found here.
  • The State of Minnesota’s vaccine locator can be found here.
  • The Safe Learning Plan also includes updated guidance for building use by the community, athletics & activities, cleaning and day-to-day operations, among other information.

We will continue to work closely with the St. Louis County Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Education to monitor local COVID rates and state and federal guidance. These safety protocols are subject to change as conditions and guidance changes.

Thank you for your understanding and support, and best wishes for a healthy, safe and productive school year.

#MaskUp #RollUpYourSleevesMN

Reporting Absence for Religious Observance

In response to a recent question regarding Rosh Hashana and absence from school for religious observance - to be considered excused, the absence would be reported to the school as one would report being out of school for an important and significant family event. Check with your school or with the Assistant Superintendent’s office if you have questions about how to report a student absence.

HOCHS Project Update

The Duluth School Board voted this week to authorize district administration to negotiate and execute a lease agreement with A&L Properties for space to be used by ISD 709’s Area Learning Center (ALC). Upon execution of the lease, the ALC program will be located in the Duluth Technology Center, 11 E. Superior Street, in downtown Duluth for at least the next 3 years.The Duluth Technology Village space will be complete and ready for students next week, allowing the ALC program to meet in person immediately.

This action came after the board voted to rescind a previous board action directing school administration to execute a lease agreement for the Radio Central Building on Central Entrance in Duluth.

ISD#709’s alternative education mission is to provide viable educational options for students experiencing difficulty in the traditional education system. Programs are characterized by smaller class sizes and a hands-on/experiential approach to learning. Instruction is designed to meet individual student learning styles as well as social and emotional needs. Teachers build connections with students and focus on vocational and career skills, including independent study options.

The relocation of the ALC program is part of the district’s plan to vacate Historic Old Central High School in downtown Duluth after the school board moved forward with the sale of the iconic structure. The district will vacate the structure by October 27, 2021.

Advance Child Tax Credit Payments For Families

From the IRS:

Important changes to the Child Tax Credit will help many families get advance payments of the Child Tax Credit starting in the summer of 2021.

■ Eligible families can receive advance payments of up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child age 6 and above.

■ You can benefit from the credit even if you don’t have earned income or don’t owe any income taxes.

■ The credit includes children who turn age 17 in 2021.

■ The tax credit is expanded to include advance payments for 2021 only

Check Out the Flyer

Click Here to Get Started

We're Hiring!

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. Apply today and 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

Welcome to Ordean East

6th Grade Day Camp & New to OEMS 7th & 8th Grade Orientation was a hit! We were thrilled to meet so many new students. They had an opportunity to walk through their schedule, meet other new kids and test out their locker combinations. It’s going to be a great year!



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