ISD 709 News 3/5/21

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families,

With the snow melting, the ice out of the bay and 50° temperatures possibly coming next week, it’s hard not to feel a little spring in your step.

We also have many positive things to look forward to in the coming weeks that will be extremely beneficial for students and families. On Monday, March 8, our middle and high schools will transition into hybrid learning, followed by a transition to much more in-person learning beginning the week of March 29.

This represents an incredible amount of work by our staff and leadership teams. There are countless details to be put into place to ensure that we are maximizing safety and productive learning for all students. I am deeply grateful for what they have accomplished given it's been nearly one full calendar year that our secondary students have been unable to attend in person. During this time, opportunity gaps have widened and there are significant social emotional learning needs that need to be tended to. This is the core of our mission in the coming weeks and months. I am also grateful for the hard work of our students and families, as well as their resilience, during this challenging time.

As of last Friday afternoon, nearly 95% of our staff who had requested a COVID vaccine had at least their first dose. Many more have been vaccinated this week, and secondary doses are being scheduled, too. This greatly increases safety, helping ensure that our plans will work to bring students back in greater numbers. Thanks to the great job done by our elementary students and staff, full in-person instruction for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade has been going very well. Furthermore, the COVID rates in our region are continuing to decline and are now at 10.8 per 10,000. All of this is exciting news.

I cannot wait to see our students coming through the doors of our middle schools and high schools next week. I don’t think I've ever looked forward to a Monday so much as I head into a beautiful weekend!


John Magas

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


Update: Secondary Hybrid and In-Person Learning

We look forward to welcoming students back into our middle and high school buildings over the next two weeks! Gr. 6 - 12 families should have received detailed information from their schools and general information is posted at ISD709.org/MSHSInPerson

  • Wk of March 8: Hybrid roll in of grades 6, 9 and 12 with synchronous sessions in the afternoon for all students

  • Wk of March 15: Hybrid roll in grades 7, 8, 10 and 11 with synchronous sessions in the afternoon for all students

  • Wk of March 22: Continue secondary hybrid and synchronous

  • Continue to provide distance learning for families who choose this option

We continue to plan for and work toward a 4-day in-person schedule for middle and high school students. Depending on how many students ultimately select this model, or if state guidance changes, it is possible that some adjustments may be needed. We’re excited to be able to provide more in-person opportunities for our students and appreciate the patience of staff and families as we work toward that goal.

  • Week of March 29: Begin 4-Day In Person Schedule

    • March 29 & 30: Transition Days per state guidelines, no in-person

    • April 1 & 2: In-Person Student Days

  • Week of April 5: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri In-Person

Grade 6 - 12 families, please look for a 2nd Learning Model Selection Form early next week specifically related to the In-Person schedule that begins the week of March 29th.

Thanks for your support!

School Bus Meal Hubs End Beginning March 8

With in-person learning at elementary schools and hybrid starting at middle and high schools, school bus hubs will no longer be used for bagged meal distribution. Buses will be used for transporting students and more students are receiving meals while at school.

Bagged meals will continue to be available for pick up at the following locations and times when school is in session through March 26:

11:30AM – 1:00PM

  • Ordean East Middle School, 2900 East 4th Street
  • Lincoln Park Middle School, 3215 W. 3rd Street
  • Denfeld High School, 401 N. 44th Avenue W.
  • Duluth East High School, 301 N. 40th Avenue E.

Please be aware, bagged meal service schedules may change again beginning March 29 when in-person opportunities for middle and high school students increase, thanks for your patience!

More about bagged meal service.

State Encourages Family, Student COVID Tests

From the MN Department of Health:

As students return to school in-person, we encourage every family to get tested for COVID-19. Any children who spend time near people outside their immediate household should get tested every two weeks, through the end of the school year.

  • Testing has never been easier - visit a community testing site, order an at-home test kit, or get tested through your health care provider. All options are quick and free to you.
  • You can sign your entire family up to get tested at the same time at a community testing site. If someone in your family prefers to speak in another language besides English, in-person or language line assistance is available.
  • Test sites are doing everything they can to make sure sites are clean, safe, and comfortable for everyone.

By wearing a mask and getting tested regularly, we can help limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our schools and sports open.

Visit Getting Tested for COVID-19 or contact your health care provider to schedule an appointment.

Tier 1 Childcare Update

The transition to hybrid, in-person learning for Grades 6-12 will result in adjustments to our childcare program model. Please view the details below to learn about the upcoming changes.

Per the Governor's Executive Order 20-82 ISD 709 will provide school-aged care for eligible children at no cost during the time those children are not receiving instruction in the school building during regular school hours when their school is implementing a distance or hybrid learning model.

This school-age care must be provided for school-age children age 12 and under who are children of critical workers in Tier I of the critical worker list. Children of Tier I workers only will be cared for at no cost during the typical school hours.

6th/7th grade option (must be 12 years of age or younger):

Care will be offered during the time those children are not receiving instruction in the school building during regular school hours at Lincoln Park Middle School only, but there will be no before and after school KEY Zone care option. Transportation options are available. Currently enrolled families will be contacted with more details.

Questions? Contact: 218-336-8760 or communityeducation@isd709.org

Thank you for your understanding and patience during this time of continuous change.

Update: HOCHS Project

Information regarding the HOCHS project is being posted at www.ISD709.org/Property.

The page includes:

  • A detailed background of steps taken to present
  • Presentations regarding the project
  • Monthly updates
  • The page will be used to share details as steps are taken to move out of Historic Old Central and as relocation plans are developed and finalized.

Planning teams have been meeting to address relocation steps that include:

• Construction of a new District Services Center on the Central Hill Site

• Renovations of the existing Facilities Building

• Construction of a new Facility for District Transportation

• Associated off-site improvements and roadways

• Site development and demolition of exiting facilities

In addition, in order to meet the needs of our Alternative Learning Center (ALC) and Adult Basic Education (ABE), the district will be obtaining leased space for these programs.

HS Registration March 2-23

Denfeld and Duluth East provide a wide range of academic and extracurricular opportunities for students grades 9 - 12. Families new to Duluth Public Schools can enroll online any time! Check out the 21-22 Course Catalog, get ready to register March 2 - 23.


MS Registration March 1-21

Lincoln Park and Ordean East provide a rich learning experience for students grades 6 - 8. Highly skilled teachers, a wide range of engaging course work plus many educational and extracurricular opportunities. Families new to Duluth Public Schools can enroll online any time! Check out the 21-22 Course Catalog, get ready to register March 1 - 21.


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. Schools are scheduling Kindergarten Registration Events for families, check ISD709.org/Kindergarten for details.

#Inspire709 #BrightFuture

We're Hiring! Licensed Practical Nurses

LPN openings at Duluth East, Lincoln Park, Ordean East and Lester Park, new starting wage is $20.45/Hour + Benefits, check online for details and other job opportunities!


In The News

Duluth News Tribune: Jason Crane, Director of Special Services, talks about the impact of COVID on the Duluth School District. Pandemic responders who talked with the News Tribune on the precipice of COVID-19 revisit the topic to talk about lessons learned, successes, and the recognition of hard realities.
WDIO-TV10: Coverage of the HOCHS Public Hearing to collect public comment on sale and relocation. Interested in learning more about the plans, updates? Go to www.ISD709.org/Property
Piedmont I Love To Read Week

Superintendent John Magas took part in a virtual schoolwide read-aloud at Piedmont Elementary, presenting "The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors" by Drew Daywalt. Look out for the bizarre and yummy breaded dinosaurs!

Watch the Video



State Bound Hounds & Hunter

Duluth East Boys & Girls Alpine ski teams and Denfeld’s Margaret Duncan qualify for next week’s state meet, congratulations!

Duluth News Tribune Photo

Duluth News Tribune




Duluth East Swim Team Victory

The Duluth Boys Swim Team wrapped up its regular season on with a dual meet win over Rockridge High School. Both teams came into the meet undefeated, Duluth prevailed with a 108-75 victory over the Wolverines. Grant Wodny set two Ordean pool records, with a time of 1:45.75 in the 200 Free and 4:48.68 in the 500 free. It was senior night and Joe Rudd capped off his last home meet with victories in the 100 butterfly (53.46) and the 100 breaststroke (1:00.17).

Thank you, Cliff Knettel, for the photo and info.

#Inspire709 #GoHounds


Denfeld Speech Team Success

Members of the Denfeld Speech Team continue to compete, persuade, communicate, think and perform. The students are actors, writers, poets, researchers, dreamers, history buffs, comedians and so much more. Team members recently competed in three tournaments. Eastview Speech Lightning Invitational and Princeton Speech Invitational: Tessa Schauer took 7th in Prose and Reagan Kern placed 10th in Serious Prose. Team members received many high marks and personal best ranks.

Forest Lake Invitational, R.C. Streater Classic: Four team members took top honors and medals. SMadeline Watts placed 9th in Drama, Ryleigh Hanon placed 13th in Prose, Reagan Kern placed 6th in Prose and Tessa Schauer placed 2nd in Prose. Congratulations!

Thank you, Jill Lofald, for the photos and information.



Duluth East XC Ski Teams Win Local Meet

Great photos from the Duluth East Cross-Country Tri Invitational held February 23 at Snowflake Ski Center in Duluth. Teams included Duluth East, Ely and Cloquet-Esko-Carlton. The Duluth East Boys and Girls teams won the meet, congratulations!

Race Results

Thank you, Erik Riker-Coleman and Renee Willemsen for the photos and info.



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