ISD 709 News 2/12/21

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families -

In the midst of these blistering cold temperatures there are several things that warm my heart.

It’s exciting to see all of our PreK - 5 families that wanted to be in person have access again to our school buildings. And, all who prefer distance-learning are able to do so with a dedicated teacher. I’m so impressed with the work that has been done by our students, staff and families to make this a reality.

We are also deep into the work of providing hybrid in-person learning for secondary students early next month and sharing information. Our schools and district staff are working diligently to address questions and we'll continue to provide updates as frequently as possible. To help in this work, we ask middle and high school families to complete the Learning Model Selection Form by February 19, please see below for details and a link to the form.

As we head into winter break, please make sure that you take time for yourself. Whether you are a student, staff member, or family member, the work that we have been doing related to the pandemic and especially the past few months has been very challenging. It’s important to take the time to rest, relax, and recharge. I hope that you enjoy this break, the increasing daylight hours and the beauty of our northland winter.


John Magas

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


Important! Gr. 6 - 12 Families, Learning Model Selection Form Due Feb 19

Duluth Public Schools middle and high schools will begin a transition to hybrid in-person learning in March.

Current planning provides students regularly scheduled in-person opportunities twice a week in the morning and maintains 3 synchronous classes in the afternoon. Families may choose between the hybrid in-person with synchronous sessions or full distance learning with synchronous sessions.

Please complete one learning model selection form for each of the grade 6 - 12 students in your household by February 19. Your timely model selection is critical for thoughtful planning and preparation.


More information: ISD709.org/HybridInfo

  • Canvas modules will continue to be uploaded on Mondays and due on Fridays
  • All learners will have scheduled time with teachers and classmates, distance or hybrid
  • COVID safety protocols are in place to ensure the safety and wellness of students and staff
  • The implementation of a hybrid model is a prerequisite for full in-person instruction

Thank you for your patience and partnership as we expand our options for 6th-12th grade students.

State Award for Duluth ALC

Our Duluth Area Learning Center is the recipient of the 2021 MAAP Alternative School of the Year Award, congratulations! The Duluth ALC was nominated for:
  • Their digital components/curriculum built by Duluth teachers
  • The open door policy that has hosted a state conference and invited dozens of districts to tour and help develop their digital reach
  • The school's outdoor education component with the Wilderness Elite students
  • Their Restorative Learning model to decrease suspension.

Each year, MAAP recognizes the contribution of exceptional individuals and programs to the mission and vitality of MAAP and to the overall well-being of Minnesota education.



State MSBA Recognition

Two Duluth School Board members were honored during the Virtual MN School Board Association (MSBA) Recognition Ceremony held in January.

Jill Lofald, Board Chairperson, received the Directors’ Award, presented to members who have attained 100 or more points of attendance at MSBA training programs within the past four years of their term(s). Chair Lofald also received a Leadership Development Certificate, awarded to members who have completed the School Board Workshop Series: Phase I, Phase II, Phase III, and Phase IV.

Member Rosie Loeffler-Kemp received the President’s Award, given to members who have attained 300 or more points of attendance at MSBA training programs.

Congratulations Chair Lofald and Member Loeffler-Kemp, thank you for your leadership!



1/2 Million Bagged Meals!

As of the end of January 2021, our Duluth Public Schools Child Nutrition Staff prepared over a half-million bagged breakfasts and lunches for students during the pandemic!

Since March 2020, our Child Nutrition staff worked tirelessly to prepare bagged meals for distribution to Duluth students in distance learning. Paraprofessionals and bus drivers have gone above and beyond to get the meals out to kids who need them. We're proud of everything they've done and continue to do for our Duluth families and Duluth community.

Free Breakfast/Lunch Distribution Sites


Bagged Meal Service Will Pause for Winter Recess

Please note bagged meal service will pause during the winter break February 15 - 19. Service resumes Monday February 22.

Details Online

2021 Kindergarten Registration

Are You Getting Ready to Send Your Child to September 2021 Kindergarten?

Enroll Online Today!

ISD 709 Elementary Schools provide a rich learning experience for students grades K-5.

  • Highly skilled, caring teachers
  • Fun, engaging, creative learning activities
  • Music, Art, Physical Education, Media
  • Reading, Math, Social Studies, Science
  • Emphasis on Family Partnership
  • Community partnerships for learning

#Inspire709 #BrightFuture

HOCHS Sale Public Hearing March 2

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday March 2, 2021 at 6:00PM to record public comment on the future closure of Historic Old Central High School. Public hearings are required as part of any schoolhouse closure process.

Please review the detailed information and protocols carefully.

  • To attend the hearing and provide comments in person you must arrive at Historic Old Central High School, 215 N. 1st Avenue East using the 3rd Street entrance and sign up to speak at the table by the entrance to the 2nd floor gymnasium by 6:00PM on March 2, 2021.
  • Written statements may also be submitted by mail or email and are due by Noon on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

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.

From the beginning, it was a priority of the District to preserve the historic character of the building and the neighborhood. As we near the end of this process it is important not only to share District information but also to hear from our community on thoughts related to Historic Central.

Family Resource: Tuesday Transition Talks, Feb - April

This year, the NLSEC and ICCOD are partnering to offer a FREE virtual webinar series for parents of children with disabilities, focused on topics that will assist them and their child with planning for life beyond high school.

No registration required, simply go to the NLSEC website and click on the Zoom link for the session you're interested in. Recorded sessions will eventually be available on NLSEC's YouTube Channel after the session is completed.

Tuesdays, February - April, 12Noon

Live Zoom Webinar


That web page is updated often with more detailed information about this event.


  • SCREEN: Elementary families, please remember to screen your children or yourself daily for any symptoms before coming to school. Keep children home or stay home if there are any symptoms found per the MDH COVID Decision Tree.

  • REPORT: Please continue to report to your child’s school any COVID-19 symptoms, test results or quarantine status for your child. We track this information for attendance and follow the Decision Tree guidelines for when children may return to school.

ISD 709 Family COVID Information Online

We're Hiring!

As we look forward to students returning in-person, we're seeking to add to our roster of talented substitute staff. Substitutes make it possible for our students to continue learning in the classroom, they make a positive difference!

Follow the link to apply!

In the News

Skiing Is Believing

Little ones at Laura MacArthur Elementary had a great chance to get outside and learn a fun winter sport! The school received a new set of cross-country skis through a recent grant. Thanks to Phy. Ed. teacher Erika Drengler and to everyone at Laura Mac who helped make this happen!



Photos Courtesy Duluth News Tribune



New Pool Record

Duluth East swam against Grand Rapids at Robert J. Ellington Middle School pool in Grand Rapids. Sophomore Grant Wodny set a new pool record in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:48.10. The previous record was set in 2007. Congrats, Grant!



2021 Chinese New Year, Friday, February 12

Liang-Pi Yang, Integration Specialist at Lowell Elementary, has created and shared this presentation for everyone to learn from and share with students, families, and colleagues.

Thank you for this excellent resource!

Google Slides Presentation: 2021 Chinese New Year

ECFE Return to Learn

It is an exciting week at Duluth Early Childhood Family Education! Families are returning to in person classes!



Big picture

Follow Us For ISD 709 School News: