ISD 709 News 11/24/21

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families:

We are headed into a time of gratitude, reflection on our blessings and giving thanks for the things that we appreciate and cherish. I again want to express my deepest “thank you” to each and every student, staff member and caring adult and family member that has continued to go above and beyond to support the learning of our students.

When I wrote a similar note last year, we had no idea that we would be in a similar state of challenge a year later. The fortitude and perseverance that has been shown throughout these many months has been inspiring. At the same time, I acknowledge the extreme amount of stress and fatigue that is being experienced, both individually and collectively. Despite the deep struggle, there has also been a strong sense of collective purpose and community within our schools.

On a personal note, I also want to thank the many people who expressed condolences for the passing of my father, Pete Magas. Such events reinforce to us what is important and what we are grateful for, both in our personal lives and in our work.

In addition to the many collective efforts, there are countless other accomplishments to be thankful for. At risk of missing many, here are a few that come to mind:

  • We have been able to return to full in-person learning, at all levels, five days a week.

  • We have kept our schools safe. By adding additional safety precautions, we have been able to keep our staff and students safe.

  • We were able to provide first dose vaccinations for over 1600 five to eleven year old students with second doses being administered next week in our in-school clinics. We also are going to be able to provide first dose opportunities for those who have not been able to get one yet.

  • We were able to position the district in a better financial position through the sale of Historic Old Central High School and Central on the hill, as well as through successful bond sales. This will allow the district to better allocate resources to support student learning needs in the coming years.

  • Our community partnerships are as strong as ever; Duluth definitely loves its students and schools and appreciates its educators.

By reflecting on these accomplishments, by no means am I minimizing the challenges that have been faced as well as those that still exist. I just want to take this opportunity to share my deepest appreciation.

My wife, Kari, and I will be returning to the Upper Peninsula to spend time with family, eat well, and relax. I hope that each of you are able to take this time to rest, recharge and spend time with those you care about, enjoying this well-deserved long weekend.


John Magas

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

IMPORTANT! If A School Bus Route Is Cancelled

School bus driver shortages and rising COVID rates make it possible this school year that there may be days where a school bus route must be cancelled at the last minute.

Cancelling a school bus route at the last minute is not a preferred strategy and we hope we never have to take this step. However, Duluth school district schools and staff are preparing for this possibility and to ensure families are prepared as well.

  • The need to cancel a school bus route for a day may be announced the night before or early in the morning (between 5AM to 6:15AM) much like a snow day.

  • The bus route will be referred to by School Name/AM or PM Service/a Route Number. In Infinite Campus Parent Portal you can check your child’s morning and afternoon route numbers.

  • Families impacted by the bus route cancellation will be notified:

    • Automated phone call from the school district

    • Email from the school district

    • Text from the school district (if the family is set up to receive texts)

  • Families impacted by the school bus route cancellation can either:

    • Provide transportation for their child in place of that route or

    • Keep their child home and, as long as they report the absence to the school, It will be considered excused.

  • Families, especially those with elementary age students, should have a contingency plan for their children in the event of a school bus route cancellation.

Please know that we are all doing our best to work through challenges specific to school bus transportation and greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we do so. We apologize for any inconvenience changes may cause.

The Duluth school district continues to actively recruit new bus drivers and there are currently new drivers in training. We encourage anyone interested in becoming a school bus driver to apply at www.ISD709.org/Jobs.

State Leaders Urge School COVID Safety

Minnesota's Education Commissioner is urging families to continue practicing COVID-19 mitigation strategies to keep schools safe and health. Dr. Heather Mueller says families can continue supporting their school communities by:

  • Wearing a mask to school
  • Getting vaccinated
  • Participating in regular COVID-19 testing
  • Practicing other important measures such as physical distancing and hand washing

As cases continue to rise in Minnesota, Commissioner Mueller reminds families that we must work together to keep our students safely learning in their classrooms.

"We have learned a lot since the beginning of the pandemic, and our priorities remain the same: first, maintaining the safety, health and wellness of our students, staff and families; and second, ensuring students can stay in their classrooms for safe in-person learning.”

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and the president of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Sheldon Berkowitz, also sent a letter and a frequently asked questions document to school leaders and school board chairs to emphasize the importance of following the state’s Best Practice Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in Schools.

COVID Vax For Ages 5 and Older

Free COVID Vaccinations Available for Ages 5 years and Older:

The Minnesota Department of Health has created a resource with information about COVID-19 vaccines for people under 18 years old.

The MN Dept of Health’s About COVID-19 Vaccine web page includes information on the vaccine and what to expect before, during and after vaccination.

The What You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccines document provides answers to many questions families may have.

COVID Safe Learning Plan

As the COVID pandemic continues, our schools continue to respond 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.

Details at www.ISD709.org/SafeLearningPlan

State and County Data:

Minnesota Weekly COVID Report - Includes Cases in PreK through Grade 12 School Buildings by County

Minnesota Situation Update

St. Louis County MN COVID-19 Dashboard

We Need School Bus Drivers!

Make a difference by becoming a Duluth School Bus Driver, our schools need you. Apply today if you’re a school bus driver looking for work OR hold a CDL license or a valid drivers license with a good driving record (we’ll pay to train you!) OR a retired school bus driver willing to work this school year.

Starting Wage: $19.54/Hr, Excellent Single & Family Benefits

Duluth Public Schools is an equal opportunity employer.

Current Job Openings

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

In The News

ISD 709 Duluth Preschool celebrates grand opening of nature playscapes! Created using grant dollars and with help from 3 Owls Outdoor Play consultants, these innovative, engaging play spaces will increase outdoor opportunities for Duluth preschool students in neighborhoods with less access to green spaces.

KBJR - TV6: Watch the Video

WDIO-TV10: Watch the Video

KQDS-TV21: Watch the Video

CBS3-TV: Watch the Video

Denfeld Rocks Christmas City Parade

Denfeld High School showing up with awesome Hunter Spirit in Duluth's Annual Christmas City of the North Parade!

Thank you, @DenfeldHunterPride, @DenfeldBand and JP Rennquist for the photos & info.

#Inspire709 #HunterPride


Ordean East Spelling Bee Success

Students whose names are bolded will be going on to represent Ordean at the district spelling bee on December 14 at Lincoln Park Middle School. Congrats to all who participated!

7th/8th grade division:

Champion: Maddie Singer (8th grade)

Runner up: Parker Tandberg (7th grade)

Third: Ash Hibbs (8th grade)

Sam Breeuer (8th grade) & Max Harbson (8th grade)

6th grade division:

Champion: Faith Dollopac

Runner up: Bjorn Sherman-Strand

Third: Callum Richardson

Thank you to everyone who helped make the school spelling bee a success - Ryan Feldbrugge, Cathy Klaber-Hartl, Ginger Backus, Mary Gavitt, Peter Froehlingsdorf, Dave Gerth, Sara h Erickson, Julie Guddek, Katie Oliver, Joan Lancour, ELA teachers & The Ordean East Times!



Affirmation, Compassion, Kindness

Ordean East staff received a generous donation of SMACK (Sending Messages of Affirmation + Compassion + Kindness) cards thanks to Mrs.Marquardt. Over the next week, random students and staff will be recipients of SMACK. Words of affirmation + compassion + kindness are powerful!



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