For ISD 709 Faculty & Staff 10/1/20

From John Magas, Superintendent

Dear Colleagues,

The last several weeks have been some of the most demanding in my experience as an educator. They’ve been especially so for our teachers, who are striving to reach, teach and engage students and families. That job, challenging in the best of times, is an even heavier lift as our teachers create content, learn a new system for educating children and work through the difficulties we’re all experiencing along the way.

It’s a tough job and I want all teachers to know we’re listening and will work diligently to support you in your efforts. And I hope you can see some results already from your work. As I visit our in-person and virtual classrooms it’s amazing to see students engaging deeply in their learning. I’m impressed with their creative thinking, intelligence and resilience, despite the challenges we face. Seeing the light go on in a student’s eyes as they learn something new is our greatest reward as educators.

All of us who work for Duluth Public Schools are going above and beyond as we strive to do our best to engage students and keep them safe. In addition to our teachers I would like to recognize two groups of employees. If you have the opportunity, please give them an extra “thanks” or consider a note of appreciation.

Friday is National Custodial Workers Recognition Day. I would like to share our appreciation for the staff who keep our schools and facilities clean and well-maintained. They have taken on an important role during the coronavirus pandemic, helping keep students and staff healthy and safe when they come to school. Having worked as a custodian myself, I know that the job is physically demanding and requires dedication to detail. We are deeply appreciative of your contributions.

Also, October is National Principals Month. Leading a school during this era is one of the greatest challenges imaginable. The stakes are high, with the safety of staff, students, families and the education of children always at the forefront. Crisis response on the part of our principals calls for a thoughtful balance of servant leadership and clear, confident direction. Nimbleness, engaging people closest to the work, advocating for their solution-minded needs while balancing key stakeholder needs is crucial. Your strong leadership is appreciated by all of us as well.

Again, I thank you deeply for all that you are doing for our students and families!



If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email: Superintendents@isd709.org

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.

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


Certified Staff, Professional Development Day

From Jen Larva, Interim Director of Curriculum

Planning is underway for our October 26 Professional Development day for certified staff.

The staff development committee reviewed exit ticket data from the September PD day and many staff were satisfied with our Back to School virtual learning structure.

We're excited to continue our virtual learning opportunities by introducing"709 Online." Our district is filled with staff that bring forth a wealth of knowledge and passion for teaching and meeting the needs of our students. 709 Online is all about having our teaching staff share their gifts and knowledge with colleagues.

Certified staff will engage in a full day of learning together. Here are some highlights:

  • Continued Implicit Bias discussions with colleagues
  • 709 Online: breakout sessions choices led by teacher leaders on topics being identified by teachers
    • Digital Learning
    • Relicensure Areas
  • Foundational Early Childhood training on trauma impacts on communication


Parent Advisory Council on Special Education (PACSE)

PACSE will facilitate opportunities for parents and schools to work collaboratively to ensure success of all children with special needs by advising ISD 709 on policies, procedures, programs, practices, and issues related to the education of children and youth with disabilities from birth to age 21.

Thursday, October 8

4:15PM - 5:15PM

Join with Google Meet

By Phone (US) +1 414-436-8677

PIN: 378 799 799#


Mental Health Support

It’s important that Minnesotans have access to the mental health care resources they need to stay well during this challenging time.

State agencies are working together to ensure these services are available, and they are also connecting people with private organizations that can provide support. This includes telemedicine resources (which replace clinic visits) and other well-being supports to help families and individuals cope.

Resources from the MN Department of Health

COVID Safety Tips for Individuals & Families

Helpful tips from the Minnesota Department of Health for athletic activities & sports, social gatherings, dining at restaurants, shopping, outdoor activities and more.

View the Tips

ISD 709 Staff COVID Web Page

There's a web page for ISD 709 staff where COVID information is and will be posted. It's an effort to put links to all the information coming at us in one handy spot. Is there a link you'd like to see added? Let us know at Info@ISD709.org.


You'll find a link at the bottom of the district home page and each school home page under Staff Resources.

Free COVID Saliva Test

As part of Minnesota's Safe Learning Plan, one saliva test will be provided free of charge to all staff currently employed by Minnesota’s school districts, charter schools, tribal schools, and nonpublic schools.
While most Minnesotans can access testing through their primary care provider or another community testing location, you can also request a saliva test to complete in your home while guided by a medical practitioner.
Details are included in an email sent to all ISD 709 staff Wednesday September 30 at 3:55PM. The email is from human_resources@isd709.org

ISD 709 COVID Case Reporting for Schools

Based on guidance from the MN Department of Health. Briefly:

  • If an ISD 709 employee tests positive for COVID they're asked to report it to the District COVID Contact at reportcovid@isd709.org or 218-336-8731 & leave message.
  • The District COVID Contact is responsible for all notification and communication.
  • If principals, program managers, or other district staff are notified of a positive case first, they are directed to report to District COVID Contact and take no other action.
  • Staff must maintain confidentiality and not contact others. HIPAA/FERPA data privacy laws must be followed.

View the COVID Reporting Tree

View the MN Department of Health Guidance

MDH Handling a Suspected or Confirmed Positive Case of COVID

HOCHS School Closing Hearing

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday October 6, 2020 at 6:00PM to record public comment on the possible 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 6:15PM on October 6, 2020. Written statements may also be submitted by mail or email and are due by Noon on Tuesday, October 6, 2020

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.

ISD 709 News

We know there are a lot of great things going on in our schools - let's make sure we're letting everyone else know, too! Share your school, student, staff accomplishments, projects and events with Kathleen.Kaufman@ISD709.org, they'll be used in email newsletters, social media, websites and other communication venues.

Piedmont Autumn Fun

Students at Piedmont Elementary took part in an autumn scavenger hunt and a fall lesson about acorns. They learned where acorns come from, that they have seeds inside, and that if you leave them in a jar an acorn weevil will pop out! Social distancing includes outdoor learning and a creative art project to wrap up the adventure.

#Inspire709 #PantherProud


Duluth Community Education - Finding Ways to Adapt

The large Duluth Civic Orchestra is unable to play together during the pandemic, but members can get together in a new offering of "Small Music Groups" this fall. Creating communities even if the communities are smaller.

Fall 2020 Community Education Course Catalog

>View the Fall 2020 Online Catalog

>Register for Classes Online

Duluth Community Education provides opportunities for all ages through classes and activities serving people’s social, recreational, enrichment and academic needs.

Classes offered in a variety of formats including in-person, online and at-home kits with instructional videos

For information about Fall Into Reading, call 218-336-8711 or email olivia.kinsley@isd709.org!

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